“Nobody on Earth brings more quality programs to audiences than we do,” CBS CEO Les Moonves told buyers today at his company’s annual Carnegie Hall presentation. The traditional media triumphalism provided a contrast with his rivals’ efforts this week to talk up corporate synergies and digital initiatives — especially as tech powers including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL try to win dollars to online video. “Our friends in Silicon Valley are expanding from developing logarithms to developing television shows,” Moonves says. Following the tech NewFronts presentations, he added, “They used to call us OldFronts until they started doing exactly what we do.”
Despite the bravado, even CBS can’t ignore the growth of – and advertiser interest in — online viewing. The CEO noted in passing “our ever-expanding digital and interactive business” and said “the best news for all of us is that every eyeball is being counted.” CBS Network Sales President Jo Ann Ross kicked off the event promising “custom multiplatform solutions” to reach people “where ever they are and whenever they are watching.” But the company provided no details.
“Deep cleansing breath,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said at CBS’ presentation after a very carefully edited clip from Two and a Half Men that featured no trace of former star Charlie Sheen. “It has been a hectic few months for us,” she said. “Just last week, thanks to our new cast member’s tweet, we found out what the square root of 6.25 is,” she said, referring to Ashton Kutcher’s tweet shortly after news of his deal for Men leaked. “We could not be happier to have actor, producer and social-media mogul Ashton Kutcher joining TV’s No. 1 comedy for the past five years. Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time together, the new cast of Two and a Half Men.” Kutcher, joined by co-stars Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones, walked onstage, all grooving to the theme song of the show. Kutcher looked genuinely happy and came across as likable as he gave unscripted remarks. “It’s awesome, it’s unbelievable to be here,” he said, adding that never in his 13-year career had he received so many congratulatory calls and emails. “You’d almost think I won the lotto … which I kinda did,” he said to laughs. “I got the best job in show business and I’m ecstatic.” Read More »
Opening the CBS upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall today was a video of David Letterman, Steve Martin and Paul Shaffer rehearsing a music tune, “It’s gonna be a big, big season…” until CBS CEO Leslie Moonves walks in and tells them that their number has been cut. But CBS went the extra mile this year with a second video with the characters from freshman drama Blue Bloods. The CBS fall schedule had been stolen, and the entire Reagan clan is summoned to track it down. The hooded thief is apprehended and roughened up before his identity is revealed: It’s Regis Philbin. “I want to be on the schedule,” he said. “I’m in the apartment all day; Joy is driving me crazy.” After an elaborate pursuit enhanced with classic movie car chases, Tom Selleck personally delivers the schedule to Moonves on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
No Two and a Half Men jokes in Moonves’ intro, only a subtle reference with the opening line: “I’ll be here for a very short time: tops 2.5 minutes.” The other more memorable line in his speech: “At CBS, we don’t rebuild, we reload.” Read More »