MANAA Urges ABC to Give “Fresh Off The Boat” Another Season

manaalogo

April 24, 2015

Mr. Paul Lee

President, ABC Entertainment Group

500 S. Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA  91521

Dear Paul,

I hope this letter finds you well.  Congratulations on an historic year for ABC.

You should rightfully be proud of showing the industry that new series starring people of color–“How To Get Away With Murder,” “Black-ish,” and “Fresh Off The Boat”—can be successful and that this model needs to be emulated if networks are to appeal to the ever-changing racial and cultural demographics of this country.

As you probably know, there have been several community screenings of “FOTB” in New York and Los Angeles, with hundreds having to be turned away.  The night of its February 4 preview, #FreshOffTheBoat was the most popular twitter subject in the country even dethroning #BrianWilliamsMisremembers.

Obviously, Asian Americans have gravitated toward “FOTB,” the first Asian American sitcom in over 20 years.  Nielsen tells me that for its first 7 episodes, 19.4% of all Asian American households watched at least one episode within 7 days and for the first 8 episodes, they over-indexed at 227, meaning Asian Americans were 127% more likely to watch the series within 7 days.

During that time, white and black audiences were also watching the sitcom in greater proportion to their populations.

“FOTB” is a favorite of the critics, many of whom (e.g., Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, Huffington Post, Boston Herald) called it one of the best shows—if not the best show–of the season.  Time found it “damn funny… Three episodes in, it’s the best broadcast comedy of the new season… a show with more voice after three episodes than most sitcoms have after three years.”  Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote:  “’Fresh Off the Boat’ does what few television shows do now, which is to make race not beside the point.  It sits inside a minority culture and looks with bewilderment and bemusement at the dominant one… it’s a consistently funny and even important one, with some lovely, nuanced performances.”

It’s a prestigious show that you cannot afford to lose.

Despite being put in the tough Tuesday night 8 p.m. hour with no lead-in, new episodes of “FOTB” average a 1.73 Live+same day rating in the 18-49 age group, but jump to a 2.2 with Live+7 numbers, which consistently increased each of the past six weeks.  Its 18-49 Live+SameDay and total viewership numbers always beat competitors “MasterChef Junior,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “The Flash,” and “Parks and Recreation.”  “FOTB” is ABC’s top Tuesday night show, as well as the most popular comedy of the night outperforming “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project,” “Undateable,” “One Big Happy,” “Repeat After Me,” “Weird Loners” and (in the 18-49) even re-runs of “NCIS.”

Impressively, “FOTB” held its 1.8 rating on February 24 even with the return of NBC’s “The Voice.”  “FOTB’s” last three episodes have increased its 18-49 numbers.  Also, its 18-49 and total viewership numbers are better than last season’s “The Goldbergs” (1.73, 5.75 million total vs. 1.68, 5 million total), which you renewed.

Last season, “The Goldbergs” held the Tuesday 9 p.m. slot but improved impressively when moved this season to Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (up 30.87% to a 2.2 and up 39.94% in total viewers to 7.08 million) with “The Middle” as its lead-in vs. the less compatible “S.H.I.E.L.D.”  Perhaps next season “FOTB” would also benefit from having a strong, compatible lead-in?

Given all of these considerations, we hope you will renew “Fresh Off The Boat” and give it sufficient promotion to ensure its long-term success. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Guy Aoki

Founding President, MANAA

cc:  Samie Falvey

Vicki Dummer

Keli Lee

Andy Kubitz

Marla Provencio

Tim McNeal

Asian Pacific American Media Coalition’s Annual Television Report Card – 2012

LOS ANGELES – In the 12 years the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) has issued report cards grading the top four television networks on their efforts to include Asian Pacific Americans in their programming and business dealings, no company has received an F—until now. Fox failed to provide the data the APAMC has consistently requested and which the other networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—have delivered for over a decade. As a result, for the 2011-2012 season, the Coalition had no choice but to give the network a grade of F/Incomplete–the worst grade ever given to any network in the history of the report cards. APAMC Co-Chair Marilyn Tokuda remarked, “This is especially disappointing because Fox had some very positive stories to tell about its diversity initiatives under its new Audience Strategies department.” Added co-chair Guy Aoki, “We require each network to provide the same information every year on a timely basis so we can evaluate them fairly and evenly compared to other networks and to their own past performance. Since Fox did not give us the necessary data, we cannot give them any credit.”

Ironically, the only network to meet the coalition’s challenge from last year to cast at least one Asian Pacific American actor as the main star of a TV show by Fall 2014 was Fox. “The Mindy Project,” created by and starring Indian American actress Mindy Kaling, began airing in September. It emerged from a diverse writers initiative at NBC and is produced by Universal Television, the television studio/production unit affiliated with NBC. The Coalition looks forward to seeing if “The Mindy Project” will flesh out the lead character’s background and provide viewers the opportunity to see her family and learn more about her heritage. “The APAMC began meeting with the major television networks in late 1999 and early 2000 to press for greater diversity for severely underrepresented Asian Pacific Americans (APAs),” said co-chairs Guy Aoki and Marilyn Tokuda in a Coalition statement. “Since then, there have been incremental increases in the number of APA actors, writers, producers, directors and network executives at all four of the networks. But in the 2011-2012 season, the numbers have somewhat stagnated,” they said.

Read More

Asian Pacific American Media Coalition’s Annual Television Report Card – 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 8, 2011, 11 a.m. PST

Asian Pacific American Media Coalition Challenges TV Networks to Create Asian American Stars in Next Three Years LOS ANGELES-

Concerned with the slow progress of TV networks in the area of diversity casting, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) has released its 2011 report cards grading the networks’ past 2010-2011 season while simultaneously challenging ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to cast at least one Asian Pacific American actor as the main star in a TV show within the next three years. “Since APAMC began meeting with the networks in late 1999, only two new shows have starred Asian Pacific Americans (APAs),”said co-chairs Guy Aoki and Marilyn Tokuda in a Coalition statement, “‘Cashmere Mafia’ with Lucy Liu and ‘Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (Inaba),’ both on ABC. We believe that, without a timetable, the networks will never confront the perceived obstacles to using APAs as the faces of their series. So we have issued a challenge that within three years–by the Fall of 2014–they air a series which stars at least one APA clearly cast as the central character (the star’s name usually appears first in the credits when they aren’t listed alphabetically).”

For example, the star of “Parks and Recreation” is Amy Poehler, not Aziz Ansari.

The Coalition challenge included a further condition: “Because many actors are part-Asian Pacific and viewers are unaware of what their heritage is, we always encourage the networks to make it clear within the context of their shows that the character is Asian Pacific. However, if all we end up getting are stars who are part-APA but don’t look it and who don’t play recognizably APA roles, then the goal of more meaningful inclusion will not have been reached.”

Last year, the total number of APA regulars amongst the top four networks jumped from 32 to 38–an all-time high. This past season, that number dropped to 31. Overall, NBC, with a B (up from a B-), ranked highest in this year’s APAMC report cards, which marks the 10th anniversary of judging the inclusion of APAs in eight categories: actors, unscripted show participants, writers/producers, directors, development, procurement, executives, and network initiatives.

No other network has ever received this high a grade from the coalition. Out of 12 report cards since 2000, NBC has received the highest overall grade 8 times (5 of them ties with other networks). This past season, the peacock network also had the highest grade for actors, development deals, and writers/producers, and tied for top honors in procurement, executives, and diversity initiatives.

CBS maintained a B- for the third year, ABC slid from B- to C+. Fox fell from C+ to C-, the worst network grade since CBS received the same rating in 2005. “Last season, NBC had 13 regulars of Asian Pacific descent (boosted by five regulars on ‘Outsourced’,” Aoki stated. “This was the highest number any network has been able to achieve in the 11 years the Coalition has released report cards. Accordingly, we have issued our highest grade in the actors category ever, a B+. NBC is the only network to receive this high a grade, which they also received in 2004.” According to the APAMC report, between 2006 and 2008, ABC either had the highest number of APA regulars or tied for that distinction. But ABC’s record has declined noticeably since then. This past season, ABC could claim only 5 regulars and 4 recurring characters, their exact numbers in 2005. Of all four networks, ABC received the lowest grade in the actors category, a D+. The day after the new “Hawaii Five-0” debuted in September of 2010, the APAMC encouraged CBS to hire writers and actors from Hawaii in order to truly capture the essence of the people of that state. “We have been disappointed that most of the APAs used are as suspects or villains and increasingly, most of the guest stars—who often get more screen time than regulars Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Masi Oka—are white and from the mainland,” Aoki said. A meeting with CBS has been set for next week to address these concerns. ABC scored best in the unscripted series category for the fourth consecutive year. Since 2008, the network has featured APAs in many of their unscripted series, including Carrie Ann Inaba as a judge on “Dancing With the Stars.” CBS made the biggest improvement in reality shows, jumping from a C- to a B- for its profiles of two Asian American CEOs in “Undercover Boss” and many contestants on “The Amazing Race” and “Live to Dance.”

“The networks have always struggled with using APA directors on their shows,” said Coalition co-chair Tokuda, reporting that Fox had the highest number (11) of APAs directing a total of 28 episodes. Except for one episode of “Traffic Light,” however, all of those shows were animated. Still, Fox earned the biggest grade improvement in any category this past season, jumping from a D- to a B-.

However, Fox had no development deals with APAs, receiving an F in that category, as well as an F/Incomplete for its failure to report verified procurement data (they have promised to provide this in the near future). The network also received the lowest grade for diversity initiatives (C-), as the head of the Diversity department left in October of last year and the entire team was eventually dismantled. Fox is now taking a different approach with its “Audience Strategy” department, and we look forward to seeing whether its promising new diversity initiatives bear more fruit at the network than have past efforts.

The Coalition singled out CBS President Nina Tassler, praising her for convening a second meeting with her show runners and the APAMC to discuss ways to include more people of color (POC) in their series. In the 2011-2012 season, CBS will have at least 10 APA regulars, the highest in its history. Unfortunately, this includes the heavy-accented restaurant owner played by Matthew Moy in “2 Broke Girls,” which many in the community feel sets back the cause. Fox’s numbers also look better for this new season with the inclusion of three Asian Indian/half -Asian Indian regulars as part of the main family on “Terra Nova.” Also, the network once again includes an Asian American doctor–played by Charlene Yi–in “House.”

Despite losing five regulars on the now-cancelled “Outsourced,” NBC only slipped from 13 to 12 as it included 7 new API regulars on 7 new series. Although the road to reflecting reality has been an ongoing challenge, since the 1999/2000 meetings, the networks have implemented many initiatives to increase the presence of POC before and behind the camera.

Although the programs do not guarantee employment, they provide access and a means to getting a foot in the door in areas POC have historically been denied.

APAs have gained ground as writers, with some elevated to producers, co-producers and executive producers on such series as “ER,” “Lost,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Prison Break,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Bones,” “Medium,” “The Walking Dead” and “Body of Proof.”

“For actors,” Tokuda stated, “winning a place in the network showcases is like harnessing the brass ring. The exposure can lead to solid agency representation, multiple auditions and, in some cases, an ongoing mentorship with casting executives. People like Carrie Ann Inaba (“Dancing with the Stars”) and Liza Lapira (21, “Traffic Light”) were discovered in the showcases.”

Graduates of directors programs have gone on to direct shows like NBC’s “Community” and the Julia Roberts film Fireflies in the Garden.

The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) has agreements with ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, committing them to work to increase diversity on-screen and behind the camera. APAMC members include such organizations as East-West Players, Japanese American Citizens League, Media Action Network for Asian Americans, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, and Visual Communications.