Central Casting

Central Casting: Extras and Ethnicities

In 1925, Hollywood studios joined together and formed the Central Casting Bureau. At a time when aspiring motion picture players were flocking to Los Angeles, this new organization streamlined the casting process, but it also marginalized nonwhite actors. Central Casting took advantage of L.A.’s diverse social and cultural landscapes, hiring representatives within the city’s segregated ethnic enclaves to function as intermediaries when the studios called for actors of particular ethnicities. Some – even journalists working in the black press – praised the practice as a form of racial progress. But more often than not, stardom was reserved for white actors. For people of color, working as a Hollywood actor meant working as an extra.

LA as SubjectA collaboration between the USC Libraries and KCETLink, Lost LA features the member collections of L.A. as Subject, a research alliance dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region.

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Building The Metropolis

Wood, iron, steel, concrete -- these are the materials that gave form to Los Angeles and shaped its identity in the national imagination. This episode also questions the cultural legacy and environmental costs of the city's relentless growth.

  • 2018-04-21T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-04-21T11:36:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Dream Factory

Los Angeles is often identified with Hollywood, but there's more to the entertainment industry than its facade of movie stars and blockbuster films. This episode explores the career of Lois Weber, a filmmaker who rose to greatness in a nascent film industry that welcomed women into creative leadership positions; as well as a Central Casting Bureau that capitalized on the city's segregated ethnic enclaves when filling background roles.

  • 2018-04-24T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-04-25T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-04-28T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-04-28T11:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Coded Geographies

What if the stories L.A. told about itself relegated you to the margins? This episode explores two underground guidebooks -- The Negro Travelers' Green Book and The Address Book -- that reveal the hidden geographies many Angelenos had to navigate, exposing Los Angeles as a place of coded segregation and resistance.

  • 2018-05-01T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-05-02T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-05-05T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

Pacific Rim

Americans have long looked at the California shore and seen the end of the continent. Instead, this episode interprets that sandy edge as the beginning of a Pacific world -- one that has long influenced Los Angeles through geology and climate, but also through the transoceanic flows of people, goods, technology and cultural ideas.

  • 2018-05-08T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-05-09T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-05-12T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-05-12T11:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Borderlands

American history has long been told as a triumphant march westward from the Atlantic coast, but in southern California, our history stretches back further in time. This episode explores the interconnected lives of three people who lived through California's transition from native land to Spanish colony and from Mexican province to American state. Featuring the stories of native teacher Toypurina, who led the revolt against the San Gabriel Mission, Spanish soldier Jose Marco Pico, who served at the mission, and his son Pio Pico, who became the last Mexican Governor of California.

  • 2018-05-15T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-05-16T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-05-19T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK