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U.S. to Examine Hiring of Minorities in Entertainment

Industry: Although no formal inquiry is planned, head of Employment Opportunity Commission says his office will look into grievances.


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas says his office is going to start looking into what he called the lack of minority hiring in the entertainment industry.

"There really does seem to be a problem, and some of the grievances I have been told about are blatant and egregious," Casellas said Tuesday night after a meeting in Los Angeles with representatives of 28 entertainment unions, civil rights organizations and media advocacy groups.

He said the problems exist in front of and behind the camera, and also involve the depiction of minority groups in films and television.

Casellas said he was also struck by accounts that white actors are sometimes cast to play Latinos in films.

Although no formal investigation was planned and no conclusions were drawn concerning the extent of minority employment in Hollywood, he said the groups would soon start reporting to the local EEOC office about alleged discrimination practices. Formal action could follow, he said.

"We want these organizations to help us identify some of the worst practices," Casellas said.

Among the groups represented at the two-hour meeting were the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America West, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Indians in Film, the Hispanic Media Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination and the local chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

Several of the representatives at the meeting said they were encouraged by the session with Casellas.

"It went very, very well," said Zara Buggs Taylor, the Writers Guild's executive administrator for employment diversity. "What we have to do now is form a united front that will help us be stronger in our efforts."

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