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New online casting site will highlight Latino actors

Pledging wide-ranging diversity programs and appointing senior-level executives to oversee them, network executives seem serious about beefing up minority representation on TV. But just to make sure, two advocacy organizations-the National Association for the Advancement of Latino People (NAALP) and Nosotros-are trying to make it easy to add more Latino faces to the programming mix by launching the online talent service, Castnet Latino.

Created as a separate link within four-year-old casting Web site Castnet.com (founded by former Warner Bros. International TV chief Michael Jay Solomon), Castnet Latino will spotlight veteran and emerging Hispanic actors.

"We've all heard about the lack of employment of Latinos in the industry, and last year we fell back," says Nosotros President and Castnet Latino's co-director Jerry Velasco. "So we needed to find a way to bring Latin-American artists to the attention of the American producer."

Castnet Latino, also managed by NAALP partner Frank Aragon, will post actors' glossies and resumes for $49.95, charging extra to stream multimedia video. The service, which will debut this fall, is free to Hollywood's talent seekers.

So far, Solomon is encouraged by the response to Castnet Latino. In the two days following last week's announcement, Solomon's Los Angeles offices fielded 160 phone calls from curious actors and producers.