BEVERLY HILLS -- After years of disappointing efforts, America's broadcast networks will deliver their most racially diverse lineup ever this fall, with ABC leading the way.

Among the network's new fare is the promising comedy "Black-ish," pegged to an upper-middle class African-American family. Also on the ABC schedule: "Cristela," a sitcom created by and starring Latina comedian Cristela Alonzo, and "How to Get Away With Murder," a moody legal series with Viola Davis in the lead role.

Set for midseason is "Off the Boat," about an Asian-American family.

According to ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee, this aggressive move toward diversity isn't about filling quotas, but an effort to portray what the country actually looks like.

"It is a mission statement to reflect America. That's our job," he said at the TV critics press tour. "In a way, it's not so much diversity as authenticity."

Of course, diversity these days also makes good business sense. Networks failing to embrace it do so at their own risk, according to Lee.

"If you look at shows now that seem to lack diversity, they actually feel dated," he said. "America doesn't look like that anymore, and people want to see an America that looks like where they live."

THE 'STATE' OF HEIGL: Katherine Heigl wants you to ignore those unpleasant things you've heard about her. She denies she's a "difficult" actress to work with, despite the reputation that has followed her since her turbulent 2010 exit from "Grey's Anatomy."

"I certainly don't see myself as being difficult. I would never intend to be difficult," she told journalists. "... I think it's important for everyone to conduct themselves kindly and respectfully and professionally. If I ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional."

Heigl appeared at the press tour to promote "State of Affairs," an NBC fall drama in which she plays a CIA analyst who has close ties to the president (Alfre Woodard). The show represents a TV comeback for the actress, who after appearing in a few big-screen movies -- mostly romantic comedies -- took an extended break to spend time with her family.

It was also a chance to reassess a showbiz career that Heigl believes veered a bit off track.

"I had stopped challenging myself with the choices I made," she said. "I sort of let myself down and my audience. I wasn't challenging them, either."

A KISS DISS: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock band Kiss showed up here to plug their new AMC reality show, "4th and Loud," but spent part of the session dissing their former band mates.

When Simmons was asked why they were the only two original Kiss members who remain in a band that formed in 1973, he strongly defended the decision to dump Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, who struggled with addiction.

"Any team is only as good as the members on it," he said. "We love and respect those guys for what they did at the outset of the band, but they succumbed to the cliche of cliches, which is drugs and alcohol. ... If you are going to pass the ball to your teammate, and they can't see where the goal is, they've got to leave."

QUICK TAKES: ABC announced premiere dates for its fall shows, with "Dancing With the Stars" kicking things off on Sept. 15. The schedule revs up the following week with new seasons of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Sept. 23), "Modern Family" (Sept. 24), "Scandal" (Sept. 25) and others. ... NBC has signed Christopher Walken to play Captain Hook in its live holiday production of "Peter Pan."

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