One reason networks may be hesitant to cast minorities as leads in dramas is that some past efforts have flamed out in spectacular fashion.
"Law of the Plainsman" (1959-60): Michael Ansara was of Lebanese descent, but he often was cast as an American Indian, most notably as an Apache tribesman who becomes a deputy U.S. marshal after attending Harvard. Ansara's focus may have been elsewhere. When the series launched, he was embarking on a 16-year marriage to future "Jeannie" Barbara Eden.
"Get Christie Love!" (1974-75): Former "Laugh-In" go-go dancer Teresa Graves tried to shake up the crime drama by playing a sassy cop who goes undercover as a prostitute, jewel thief, student -- anything but the star of a hit series.
"Outlaw" (2010): Jimmy Smits' impeccable taste left him when he agreed to play a Supreme Court justice who leaves the bench to open his own practice. He should have started by suing the writers of this mess.
"Undercovers" (2010): Hopes were high for this spy thriller when co-creator J.J. Abrams agreed to direct the pilot about a married couple lured back into doing CIA work, at least when they're not running a gourmet catering service. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe smoldered, but the "adventures" fell as flat as an overcooked soufflé.