CBS orders new comedy 'Superior Donuts' with minority co-lead following diversity furor

A little more than a month after coming under fire for its absence of minority leads on its fall schedule, CBS has ordered a new comedy that features an African American actor in a co-lead role.

The network announced that the half-hour series, “Superior Donuts,” will be added to its schedule for the 2016-17 season. 

Based on the play by Tracy Letts that followed his Pulitzer Prize-winning “August: Osage County” to Broadway in 2009, the series will star Judd Hirsch as the cranky owner of a doughnut shop and comedian Jermaine Fowler as his ambitious young employee. David Koechner, Maz Jobrani and Anna Baryshnikov also will appear on the series.

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“This show has been very high on our radar since we first put it into development last winter,” CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller said in a statement.

The network was blasted during the Television Critics Assn. press tour last month for a lack of diversity in its programming, which included six new series that were all led by white male stars. By contrast, NBC, ABC and Fox all had at least one new series led by a person of color on their schedules.

“Look, we need to do better, and we know it,” Geller said in an interview with The Times after CBS’ schedule had been announced. “In terms of year-to-year, looking at the leads, we are less diverse than last year.”

The network ordered 12 episodes of “Superior Donuts” to air in addition to the pilot.  A premiere date has yet to be announced.

chris.barton@latimes.com

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.

 

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