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Ethnic Diversity in TV Roles

July 25, 1999

"Networks Decide Diversity Doesn't Pay" (July 20) failed to mention one ethnic group that is omnipresent in the real world but practically invisible on television: Asian American doctors. One out of six medical doctors in the U.S. is of Asian ancestry; but not one actor with a recurring role in "L.A. Doctors," "Chicago Hope" or "ER" is Asian. The recent announcement that Ming-Na Wen would be returning to "ER" this fall is only the exception that proves the rule: Barbara Hershey, Lauren Holly and Carla Gugino will be signing on as new doctors in "Chicago Hope."

The number of Asian and Middle Eastern names listed in the yellow pages under "Physicians and Surgeons" is mind-boggling. But none of this means a thing to the producers of medical dramas, who believe that all hospitals are staffed by doctors and nurses who are young, attractive and almost exclusively white.

FORREST G. WOOD, Bakersfield

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Your article on diversity in television programming mentioned that "the NAACP has denounced the networks and threatened to sue" over lack of ethnic representation in the upcoming television season. A TV exec claims all broadcasting professionals have a responsibility to increase ethnic diversity in TV programming.

I don't know if I'm angrier with the perpetual whining from the self-perceived "have-nots," the ease with which people threaten lawsuits when they don't get what they want, or the misconception that television is some great social medium (instead of the cheap, easy form of entertainment that it actually is).

MARY NELSON, Santa Ana

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I have a probable solution, at least from a Hispanic point of view. I am Hispanic; however, I have always been mistaken for white. I have a strong resemblance to John Stockton of the Utah Jazz. Where do I apply? Will it work? Or are there other unspoken parameters?

MARCO GONZALEZ, Downey

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