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NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker to tout new drama 'Undercovers' to black journalists

June 17, 2010 |  2:58 pm


Less than two weeks after Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) again criticized NBC for a lack of African American actors and shows on the network's prime-time schedule, NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker is taking the network’s new series "Undercovers," which features two black leads, on the road to tout it to black journalists.

Zucker is scheduled to appear at the National Assn. of Black Journalists convention in San Diego on July 31 to help present the comedy-drama about a married couple who are also spies. The series, which is being produced by J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Star Trek”), stars Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw and will premiere this fall. Although both of the show's leads are black, neither have American roots. Kodjoe is a native of Austria and Mbatha-Raw is from Britain.

The event will mark one of the few times that a network chief has addressed the annual NABJ gathering. Although Zucker now runs all of NBC Universal, his roots are in television news. He became executive producer of NBC's "Today" show at the tender age of 26.

Appearing along with Zucker will be Kodjoe, “Access Hollywood” host Shaun Robinson and NBC's chief diversity officer, Paula Madison.

The issue of diversity has become a sticking point in cable giant Comcast Corp.'s proposed deal to take control of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal. There is a fear among some in the industry and on Capitol Hill that further media consolidation will lead to fewer independent voices and make it harder for minorities to land jobs both in front and behind the cameras.

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw of NBC's "Undercovers." Credit: Frank Ockenfels / NBC