Press Tour 2013 Live-Blog: CBS Executive Session with Nina Tassler
The head of TV's most watched network probably won't face much grilling
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Yes, "Partners" and "Made in Jersey" tanked and neither "Vegas" nor "Elementary" is necessarily doing the numbers CBS would like, but it's still TV's most watched network and hits like "NCIS" show no sign of fading.
Click through to see what gets discussed in lieu of confrontation...
9:01 a.m. We're No.1! We're No.1! CBS has four of the top five comedies and the top seven dramas on TV. Yup. That's pretty impressive.
9:02 a.m. CBS has told WBTV that they want an 11th season of "Two and a Half Men." They're interested as well. So... there's that.
9:03 a.m. Tassler says that we've hit a tipping point moment with viewers watching things on-demand. She particularly singles out "Elementary." Only 59 percent of its viewing is live. She claims the total audience for "Elementary" is ahead of "NCIS" and "CSI" in their first seasons, if you include OnDemand and VOD and all of that good stuff. "It's a new world out there. We have a new reality. We all have to look at all things a little bit differently," Tassler says, while emphasizing that CBS is going to be TV's most-watched network for the 10th time in 11 years.
9:06 a.m. Regarding the midseason drama "Golden Boy," Tassler says that they originally viewed the show as a single-star vehicle, but it quickly evolved into an ensemble and specifically into a mentor-mentee show between Chi McBride and Theo James. She even says it's turned into a two-hander.
9:07 a.m. Tassler calls "Rules of Engagement" "the best utility warrior on television."
9:08 a.m. "Unforgettable," "Under the Dome" and "Big Brother" and the American version of "The Great British Bake-Off" will air this summer and a premiere date is in my email, apparently.
9:08 a.m. CBS is already planning its first promos for "Under the Dome" to air during the Super Bowl. We now get a Stephen King-centric promo setting up the summer series. Brian K. Vaughan is also in the promo, as they summarize the plot and show concept art. Nothing's actually been shot, but they do have some funny/chilling sketches showing the vision. "No one gets in... No one gets out." Good tag.
9:13 a.m. Finally we get to ask question. The first question is, naturally, about how societal violence is impacting development. "I think the answers that have been given across the board are all very thoughtful and all very respectful of the situation we find ourselves in," Tassler says. She says that all of us have been effected and our lives have been changed by recent events. "We are parents and we respect the jobs that we have and we respect the relationship we have with our audience," Tassler says. She says the first priority will, as always, be picking the best material they have. "The reality is that we have to pick the best material, we have to continue to make decisions about supporting great quality shows on television. Nothing that is on the air is inappropriate," she says. A follow-up asks about how pervasive violence is on TV. Tassler says it's an ongoing conversation. She promises there's a discussion and "a level of communication" that is dealing with "the situation." Tassler says that parents still have to make their own decision on what their children watch. CBS' shows are appropriately rated and that's for parents.
9:17 a.m. Shift gears to "Person of Interest." She praises it as "the fastest growing sophomore show on television." Tassler says that the sci-fi element of "PoI" proves that they can develop and grow in certain genres. But she sees it as a character piece as well.
9:18 a.m. How is "Big Bang Theory" still growing in Season Six? She gives some credit to the success the show is having in syndication, but she adds that the show has evolved and grown. "I think the syndication and the ubiquity it has" has helped, she says. Will this lead to more multi-cam shows? "That's certainly the conversation and I think that copying is the sincerest form of flattery," Tasser says. The second half of the season will be "extraordinary," she promises.
9:20 a.m. Why give the post-Super Bowl slot to "Elementary"? Tassler says, "We thought 'Elementary' was the best choice." She says that as a character drama, it was a better fit than "Vegas."
9:21 a.m. Some of the crime procedurals have slipped a little in the key demo. Will this change development? "I wouldn't say there's been much of a slippage," Tassler insists. "We're not a niche broadcast. We want everybody," she says. "For us, it's still about getting everybody," she says, adding that advertisers are pleased with the numbers in the 25-to-54 demo.
9:22 a.m. When it comes to bubble shows, how will CBS process all of its data? "There's a lot of conversation that goes on with producers prior to us making our decisions," she says. The data is important, but CBS spends time meeting with producers and talking about creative changes, cast additions, etc. She references "Person of Interest" as an example of a show that has improved as part of its discussions with the network, specifically the move to bring Taraji P. Henson's character into the fold more quickly than planned. The producers had planned to let Henson's character in on the secret at the end of the first season. CBS said that was too late. The producers said they'd do it by Episode 15. CBS said that was too late. Finally, they brought her into the fold in the ninth episode.
9:25 a.m. A question about Jennifer Esposito's departure from "Blue Bloods." Tassler says CBS isn't tougher on actors than other networks, because "we keep them steadily employed for many years." Regarding Esposito, Tassler says they tried to resolve things, but it didn't work out.
9:25 a.m. "Friend Me" question. Tassler obliquely references the suicide of the show's creator, but says that they're still in post and they haven't decided what to do about it.
9:26 a.m. What's up with the "How I Met Your Mother" renewal? Tassler says that in "a very few days" things will be resolved and they're "confidence and excited" that things will work out.
9:26 a.m. CBS wants Angus T. Jones to be part of "Two and a Half Men" next year. "He made his public apology and we've moved on," Tassler says. Ashton Kutcher isn't signed for next season, though.
9:28 a.m. Tassler compares "Under the Dome" to "Jericho" as a "big idea shows" and raves about the auspices. She says that they heard a vision for "13 episodes and beyond." They want it to be "a big summer event." "Summers you have to make some noise and we really wanted to this summer," Tassler says.
9:29 a.m. Another question about the difficulties of measuring numbers and keeping advertisers involved. "Right now, our core business, our advertiser-supported business is still doing very well," Tassler says. "We're looking for that ancillary revenue that will come from a good strong measurement," she says. Ultimately, Tassler figures they'll get paid for Live-plus-7 someday because Les Moonves is on a mission.
9:31 a.m. What is the plan regarding how "Under the Dome" will end this summer? "I'd love there to be another summer," she says. "We'd like to build it into a summer franchise," she says, promising that a key piece of information will be delivered by the end of the summer. I'm not sure what that means, but...