Networks once criticized by NAACP lead in Image Awards nominations

— Two television networks criticized by the NAACP only four months ago for lacking diversity in coverage led the civil rights group's prestigious Image Awards on Wednesday with 13 nominations each.

It's a dramatic shift from an August when the NAACP reported that ABC had an "untenable" lack of commitment to diversity efforts while NBC had an 11 percent drop in the number of black actors over the past year.


AP Photo

Actor Tyrese, left, kisses Ernestine Peters, center, executive director of the NAACP Image Awards, as director John Singleton looks on Wednesday as they pose for photographers after the nominations for the NAACP Image Awards were announced at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.

Both networks denied those charges.

"When people were voting they were looking at the quality and content and not necessarily looking at any other issues surrounding the nominations and submissions," said Ernestine Peters, executive director of the Image Awards.

However, organizers received 1,500 submissions to the nomination process this year, nearly 340 more than last year. Peters acknowledged that does indicate improved diversity in entertainment.

Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, had threatened a television boycott in August over the group's lingering diversity complaints. He did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

The nominations are determined by 300 show-business professionals and NAACP officials who select five nominees for each of the 41 categories.

"These nominations are a wonderful recognition of the great talent at ABC in news, prime-time and daytime programming," network spokeswoman Julie Hoover said. "They also reflect this network's ongoing commitment to diversity."

ABC's sitcom "My Wife and Kids" had three nominations for best comedy series, best comedic actor for star Damon Wayans and best comedic actress for co-star Tisha Campbell.

The network's news programs "Nightline," "20/20" and "World News Tonight" also received nominations.

NBC had three supporting dramatic actor nods for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" co-stars CCH Pounder, Khandi Alexander and Ice-T. "ER" had nods for best dramatic series, and star Eric La Salle was named in the best dramatic actor category.

Dule Hill had a supporting dramatic actor nomination for his role in "The West Wing."

"This is a testament not only to the diversity we are very proud of at NBC, but to the excellence both in front of and behind the cameras," said Scott Sassa, chief of NBC's West Coast operations.

The Muhammad Ali drama "Ali" and the sitcom "The Steve Harvey Show" led individual nominees.

The 33rd annual Image Awards will be broadcast March 1 on Fox, Sunflower Cable channel 4.

The funeral comedy "Kingdom Come" had four nominations in the film category.

UPN's "The Steve Harvey Show" led the television category with six nominations, including best comedy series, best comedic actor for star Steve Harvey, and best comedic supporting actor for co-star Cedric The Entertainer.

Singer and pianist Alicia Keys had seven nominations, including best new artist. Michael Jackson had six nominations, including outstanding male artist.


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