Press Tour Live-Blog: CBS Executive Session with Nina Tassler
For reasons well-documented by Sepinwall, NBC couldn't/didn't trot out an executive to chat with the Television Critics Association on Thursday morning. But on Friday (Jan. 14), CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler was in the house to discuss the challenges of being TV's most-watched network.
Click through for all of the "We're No. 1" cheerleading...
9 a.m. PT. CBS begins our day with donut holes. Who do they think they are, FOX?
9:03 a.m. Recorded message from Craig Ferguson! We like Craig Ferguson. He hosted the TCA Awards one year and occasionally sends us pizza. He introduces Nina Tassler as "The adorable, lovely and extremely powerful Nina Tassler."
9:04 a.m. Yeah, yeah. CBS rules. We've got a pile of talking points before the questions start.
9:06 a.m. Tassler says that the network has few holes to fill, so development will be business as usual.
9:06 a.m. What is CBS' level of concern with Charlie Sheen? "Well, I didn't expect that question. So I'm really taken by surprise," Tassler deadpans. "We have a high level of concern? How could we not?" Tassler admits. She says that Sheen is a father and a man with a family, so there's concern on a personal level. "Charlie is a professional. He comes to work and he does his job extremely well," she adds. Tassler respects Warner Brothers' handling of the situation. On a professional level? The show is a hit.
9:08 a.m. Tassler says that CBS' strategy at 10 p.m. works and that the local news guys are thrilled. She doesn't have any plans to dive into comedy there like ABC and NBC.
9:09 a.m. "He certainly knows how we feel. He knows the level of concern we have," Tassler says to a second Charlie Sheen query. Do I hear a third?
9:09 a.m. "It's kind of the nature of the business," Tassler says regarding Mark Harmon's "NCIS" contract situation, saying she expects him to continue with the show.
9:10 a.m. Regarding "Feces My Dad Says," Tassler praises the showrunners. She insists the show is growing and that it's making creative changes, starting with the upcoming Jean Smart arc. "I think there are more things we can do," she admits. But she says "Everything's up for grabs in May," regarding its future.
9:12 a.m. CBS likes franchises. We know this. Tassler says that having a franchise gives your show structure. "We happen to do them very well. They happen to be successful," she says. Tassler vows that CBS will experiment in the future. Tassler says they have medical dramas, serialized dramas and family dramas in development, which doesn't necessarily mean anything.
9:14 a.m. "I think we're good at what we do. I think we have tremendous respect for our audience," Tassler says in response to a "Why are you so awesome?" question. She says the network has worked hard to build strong internal communication and they're working "as a cohesive unit." She adds that agencies and managers know that their talent will be supported (like Charlie Sheen!) and treated with respect.
9:16 a.m. Everything at CBS is great.
9:16 a.m. No second-season pickups announced yet. And a reporter asks about the hook to upcoming seasons of "Survivor" and "Amazing Race." I'm suspecting that reporter doesn't watch "Survivor" or "Amazing Race." She says, however, that the CBS knows what audiences enjoy in those shows and those elements will be featured in upcoming shows.
9:17 a.m. What's up with "Blue Bloods" getting a mid-week tryout? She says they want to look at how well it performs on Wednesday. They're thrilled with the show and they see it as an opportunity. She views it as a low-risk situation.
9:18 a.m. "'Idol' is 'Idol.' It's a force of nature," Tassler says. But she thinks that "Big Bang Theory" is "a superstar." She doesn't want to make a prediction, but she figures "Big Bang Theory" fans will remain and that there are enough eyeballs to go around.
9:19 a.m. Tassler disagrees with the contention that "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY" are getting long-in-the-tooth creatively. "The audiences love watching how that case is solved," Tassler says, noting that the shows have expanded to show more of the personal lives of the characters. As long as fans watch the show, CBS will order more.
9:20 a.m. Tassler calls "Flashpoint" a "real utility player," saying the network has at least six more episodes to air and that they'll air in the summer.
9:21 a.m. People with DVRs love "Hawaii Five-0."
9:22 a.m. Tassler is very happy with the creative on "Live to Dance," but knows nothing of reported recruitment for a second season. She's impressed with the critical language that's being used to coach and mentor the dancers and its promotion of commitment to the craft.
9:23 a.m. Critic who doesn't look at ratings asks if "Big Bang Theory" might beat "Idol" results shows in the 18-49 demo. It won't. Tassler doesn't say it will. She's just confident it'll hold its audience.
9:25 a.m. It's amazing how little we have to ask CBS about. We're asking about why "Live to Dance" has a short season. The answer essentially is, "Because that's what we had room for."
9:25 a.m. Back to the cutting of female characters on "Criminal Minds." Tassler says that there were creative reasons for the departure/reduction of the female characters this season. I'm not quite sure what she's saying. CBS hopes that even in a reduced role, Paget Brewster will remain with the show. "It happens more often than is necessarily shared by the press," Tassler says. So this is our fault?
9:27 a.m. That's it. Like I said. We had absolutely nothing to say.
Back in a bit...