Stars of the cult drama series 24 have attacked media executives such as Rupert Murdoch for perpetuating stereotypes about women and ethnic minorities.
Leslie Hope, who plays the wife of the lead character in 24, made for the Murdoch-owned Fox network in the US and shown in Britain on BBC2, said she feared the second series would be diluted with “beautiful women in their 20s” on the orders of television chiefs.
Fear of upsetting viewers led to stereotypical casting: “Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it all comes back to one man. The business is all about money,” Hope told the Guardian at the Monte Carlo television festival at the weekend.
She feared that executives want to inject a younger, sexier element into the second series of 24, which is about to go into production.
“When they put out a casting call for a bunch of beautiful women in their 20s, you have to ask yourself why,” she said.
The show’s independent-minded British director, Stephen Hopkins, is not returning for the second series, and Hope said she feared his successors might not be able to withstand the pressure from network executives. “The tone might shift into a new area. For the sake of the show, I’d be concerned about that.”
Dennis Haysbert, who plays a black presidential candidate, said African Americans were usually cast as “drug addicts, criminals or judges”.
Hope’s character, Teri Bauer; is strong and independent – unusual characteristics for women on American television, she said. Reactions have been mixed: when a kidnapper raped her character, some viewers could not believe that she reacted by internalising the experience rather than by emotionally breaking down.
“They couldn’t believe that a woman could have reacted like that.”
Haysbert said the black characters in 24 had a rare depth and complexity.
The series has been a critical success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Source: The Guardian