Gaying Up CBS
BY Michelle Garcia
September 02 2010 11:15 AM ET
The Eyes have it — a gay affinity group, that is.
CBS has joined some of its rival networks in welcoming a group for its LGBT employees, with members ranging from freelancers to top executives from coast to coast.
Last year some CBS employees expressed interest in forming a group to support its minority workers, says Barbara Matos, manager of CBS Diversity. When the topic came up at a company town-hall meeting, CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves took to the idea and the company's RAD Council was born.
But according to CBS News executive producer Court Passant, gay employees wanted to take it a step further. Once Moonves's team was involved, he said the formation of CBS Angle took on quickly. The group examined other LGBT affinity groups at competing networks and other industries to figure out the best structure for operation.
Currently, the group has a few dozen members from its New York and Los Angeles offices, but those members are looking to expand to include employees from all of its offices and to incorporate its San Francisco staff's already-operating LGBT group.
Though CBS was the only broadcast network to score a failing grade in July by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for its lack of gay characters, other networks under the CBS corporate umbrella have fared well each year. The CW, a joint venture for CBS and Warner Bros., was named the broadcast network with the most gay-inclusive and the most racially diverse programming, possibly due to it's 18-to-34-year-old female target audience. Another CBS Corp. brand, Showtime, also earned a "good" rating with LGBT-inclusive shows like Nurse Jackie, Weeds, and The United States of Tara.
After the third year in a row of poor marks, CBS network president Nina Tassler said at the Television Critics Association press tour in July that three of the network's shows would add gay characters (The Good Wife, Rules of Engagement, and the upcoming $#*! My Dad Says, which is based on the @shitmydadsays Twitter feed and the book Sh*t My Dad Says). For its daytime programming, the network has also added Sara Gilbert's much-anticipated roundtable talk show, The Talk.
"We're disappointed in our track record so far," Tassler said at the event. "We're going to do it. We're not happy with ourselves."
Passant says he hopes CBS Angle will provide guidance to the company at large.
"While CBS has been very supportive of our efforts, we would love for them to use us as a resource if an event or situation happened where they need advice," he says. "We would love to be more than just a social group or a group that gets together and has speakers."
CBS Angle kicks off this month with meetings at its headquarters in New York and Los Angeles. For more information visit CBSAngle.com