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As the nation grapples with police brutality and racism in wake of the death of George Floyd, that discussion will find its way into the third season of ABC’s cop drama “The Rookie.”

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said Tuesday in an interview that the series starring Nathan Fillion as a middle-age newcomer to the LAPD would reflect the issues that have arisen since Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Burke is hopeful that the writers and producers on “The Rookie” can realistically address those issues.

“Our showrunner Alexi Hawley is seeking out new voices and important voices to help inform and frame the stories he is telling this season,” Burke said.

Hawley has representatives from Color of Change, a consulting firm focusing on racial diversity in the entertainment industry, in the show’s virtual writers room.

He has also consulted with Ryan Tillman, founder of Breaking Barriers United, an organization focused on improving the relationship between police and the communities they serve. Tillman is a Black officer in the Chino Police Department.

“The cast of ‘The Rookie’ is already quite diverse,” Burke said, “and they are going to be working to be thoughtful about the stories they are telling about those characters.”

The production team for “The Rookie” was investigated last year after actress Afton Williamson, who is Black, said she was sexually harassed and faced racial discrimination on the show’s set. The outside firm that conducted the probe said that the people named in Williamson’s allegations did not conduct themselves in an inappropriate or unlawful way and that Hawley addressed her concerns in a timely matter. Williamson left the show after its first season.

ABC Entertainment has a strong track record of diversity in its casting but has been making efforts to improve its record behind the camera. Burke said her division recently implemented an “executive incubator program” to help improve diversity in the management ranks.

“The Rookie” returns on a new prime-time schedule for the 2020-21 season that includes three new series.

Writer-producer David E. Kelley returns to ABC with “Big Sky,” based on the C.J. Box books about private investigators in Montana. ABC also has ordered a new sitcom, titled “Call Your Mother,” from writer-producer Kari Lizer. The series will star Kyra Sedgwick as an empty-nester mom.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down TV production since March, both scripted programs were ordered without pilot episodes. Burke said she was comfortable with the situation as both Kelley, whose last hit for ABC was “Boston Legal,” and Lizer, who gave CBS the hit sitcom “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” were proven commodities as show creators.


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