ABC is a tough act to follow at TCA this summer when it comes to diversity. ABC has new comedies about a Mexican family, an Asian family and a Black family and a new drama starring Viola Davis. Next at TCA is CBS, which has a new comedy series about an Irish American clan and dramas starring Tea Leoni, Josh Duhamel and Scott Bakula. Its only minority lead is Maggie Q, who plays the co-lead to Dylan McDermott on drama Stalker. CBS Chairman Nina Tassler faced multiple questions about the lack of diversity on the network’s new series.”We don’t look at fall as the defining mark of giving us our diversity quota,” Tassler said, noting the cast of daytime talk show The Talk, Lucy Liu on Elementary and summer series Extant, headlined by Halle Berry. (She faced criticism even on Extant, with a critic arguing that the entire supporting cast of the sci-fi drama is White, down to Berry’s artificial son.) Tassler also pointed at different elements of diversity, like a gay main character on The McCarthys. Additionally, on the final season of Two And A Half Men, Walden and Alan are going to get married as a gay couple in order to adopt a child because Walden finds it difficult to adopt as a straight single man. Tassler called it a “positive statement”about the fact that gay couples can adopt children. …
With only two weeks until The Big Bang Theory is slated to go back into production, the entire original cast, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, have no contracts and are not close to signing one. But CBS Entertainment chairman is not worried. “We’re feeling very confident that everything will work out,” she said. “These deals always get miraculously done.”
As she just marked her 10th year anniversary atop CBS Entertainment, Nina Tassler has been promoted to Chairman of CBS Entertainment and has signed a new contract that will keep her at the network through 2017. Tassler continues to report to her long-time boss, CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves.
Tassler oversees CBS’ entertainment programming across primetime, daytime and late night, and the promotion reflects the success the network has had on her watch. CBS has been the most watched network for 10 of the last 11 years, with Tassler adding such series to the primetime lineup as comedy hits The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, critical darling The Good Wife, strong procedurals Person Of Interest, Blue Bloods and Elementary – all sold in syndication — and Emmy-winning reality show Undercover Boss. Tassler also landed an elusive summer scripted series hit last year with Under The Dome, something the broadcast networks have struggled to do for two decades. She recently guided CBS’ re-entry into the long-form arena with a new programming unit and a green light for miniseries The Dovekeepers. Additionally, the network’s daytime lineup, where Tassler introduced The Talk and Let’s Make a Deal, has done very well, setting all time highs this season. “Nina’s creative instincts, programming savvy and leadership skills have helped form a hit-making machine that has fueled the Network’s success and benefited the Company’s bottom line,” said Moonves.
CBS is the network that probably closest adheres to tradition both in the development process and scheduling, rolling virtually its entire fall lineup during premiere week. So it is not surprising that CBS is not running to jump in with Fox in discarding pilot season. “Pilot season isn’t perfect; it certainly is a very difficult time, frustrating but it is also exciting,” CBS’ Nina Tassler said this morning during the network’s TCA session in response to Fox chairman Kevin Reilly’s announcement Monday that the network will bypass pilot season going forward. Tassler quoted a study about how working under pressure in great time constraints with a sense of urgency creates a creative adrenaline that is very productive. She also brought up success pilot stories like The Big Bang Theory and CSI, though she talked about the benefits of doing a pilot — like was the case with Big Bang – reworked and recast after the pilot came in a little rough. That is actually an argument Reilly used in his pitch for dumping the pressure-cooker pilot season for a model where promising but imperfect pilots and new series are given more time for course-correction through tweaking and recasting. “Pilot season does work for us, it’s not perfect,” Tassler said. “You cannot make those broad generalizations (about abandoning pilot season). Maybe for them (Fox) it is challenging, but for us it is part of the process that works.” Like Fox, CBS has been mixing things up with direct-to-series orders, like last summer’s breakout Under The Dome, which was ordered off scripts and a bible, and the upcoming Extant and Battle Creek.
Tassler also defended the serialized, limited-run-style dramas despite complaints about Under The Dome’s creative direction and the soft ratings performance of Hostages. “When a show does not for whatever reason take off, you can’t (blame it on the form),” Tassler said. “We felt there were a lot of great elements to (Hostages), I think we had a terrific cast, all really well done… Monday night is a tough night all around, it’s difficult to give an absolute answer.”
The Casting Society of America’s 29th annual Artios Awards celebrating outstanding achievement in casting were handed out last night in simultaneous ceremonies in LA and NY. On the West Coast, CBS Entertainment boss Nina Tassler received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Linda Lowy the Hoyt Bowers Awards, while Michael J Fox was given the New York Apple Award. Here are this year’s winners in categories covering film, TV and stage:
Related: Casting Society Unveils Artios Nominees
2013 ARTIOS AWARDS WINNERS
Big Budget Feature – Comedy
“Silver Linings Playbook,” Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Diane Heery (Location Casting), Jason Loftus (Location Casting)
Big Budget Feature – Drama
“Argo,” Lora Kennedy
Feature – Studio or Independent – Comedy
“Moonrise Kingdom,” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)
The Casting Society of America will present its Career Achievement Award to CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler during its 29th annual Artios Awards, set for November 18 at ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York. The CSA also is honoring Linda Lowy with the Hoyt Bowers Award and Michael J. Fox with its New York Apple Award.
CBS sent out word to TV Critics Association members tonight that its entertainment president Nina Tassler has had to cancel Monday’s scheduled appearance at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013, owing to the death of a close friend. CBS CEO Les Moonves is taking her place tomorrow morning at the tour, ostensibly to talk about CBS’s programming plans for the coming TV season. But Moonves has been duking it out for days with Time Warner Cable execs over how much TWC should cough up per subscriber to carry CBS stations that are owned by the network in cable homes in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and elsewhere around the country – about 3.5 million TWC homes. Late last week, the two sides had set a new deadline of 2 p.m. Monday. CBS is the country’s most popular television network.
CBS’ Nina Tassler: TV Violence Conversation Shouldn’t “Devolve Into Discussion Of One Show Vs. The Other” – TCA
Violence on TV has been a major topic during the current TCA press tour, and along with references to the recent massacres in Aurora and Newtown, the discussion frequently included CBS‘ dark and violent serial killer procedural Criminal Minds, which was singled out for its violent content by several network executives, ncluding NBC’s Bob Greenblatt. “Look, that’s a much-maligned show,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler acknowledged after the TCA executive session. “I happen to enjoy the show. It’s not for everybody. It’s an adult show. It’s a suspense thriller and a character crime procedural. I don’t let my kid watch it. I do. It’s a genre show and it’s done very well.”
Tassler warned that pointing the finger at individual shows with violent content is not the answer. “I think we’re making a huge mistake here — and I’d say it to Bob to his face — to allow the conversation to devolve into a discussion of one show vs. the other. This is a much bigger issue, and thank God it’s being discussed on the level that it is. It’s really a very personal issue.”
Earlier on stage, Tassler noted that “people come to work with a renewed sensitivity, absolutely,” following the Newtown tragedy. But that won’t weigh …
CBS’ Nina Tassler On Pending ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Renewal, Jennifer Esposito’s ‘Blue Bloods’ Exit: TCA
No doubt CBS would’ve liked to announce a ninth season renewal for How I Met Your Mother at TCA today but it didn’t as the network and producer 20th Century Fox TV are still haggling over some license fee deal points. (The pacts with creators/showrunners Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the cast, including Jason Segel are done.) Things are very close. “I will be happy to report in a very few days (a renewal),” CBS’ Nina Tassler said. “I’m confident and excited that all will be resolved. Almost everything is completed.” As for where the show will go next season story-wise, “(Bays and Thomas) had two plans in place — if they had to resolve this year and or if they came back next year,” Tassler said after the session. “So we’ll sit down and talk to them in about a month about their plans for next year.” She assured that “this would be the end as designed by Carter and Craig.”
Tassler was asked about the network’s reputation of being tough on actors on procedural dramas in light of the recent decision to sideline and eventually drop Jennifer Esposito from Blue Bloods. “Oh, I don’t think we are tougher on our actors,” she said. “We employ them for many, many years. In a situation like this we are sorry to see her go, we tried to resolve it, it didn’t quite work out and we wish her the best.”
CBS gave a rare “shout out” to veteran Rules Of Engagement, which has been used to successfully plug holes on the schedule for most of its run, summoned to do it again this midseason on Mondays where it will replace cancelled Partners. “A show that serves us well, it is the best utility warrior on television.”
Asked whether there is a point where CBS would ask 2 Broke Girls executive producer Michael Patrick King to curb the racy content on the show, Tassler said, “I say to Michael as long as you keep us laughing, and as long as we vet stuff through standards and practices, we’re good. It’s an adult comedy. People enjoy it.”
Tassler spent a long time talking about summer series Under The Dome, a Steven Spielberg-produced adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, which was originally developed for sibling pay cable network Showtime.
CBS is known to take shots at its competitors, and the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler came out swinging this morning. She walked out on stage for the CBS TCA executive session carrying a plush monkey, a jab at NBC, which brought in the monkey from its new comedy series Animal Practice to its TCA presentation and party, where she shared the lion’s share of attention with fellow guest Sarah Palin.
“It’s been a TCA full of cell phone announcements from the stage, monkeys, Sarah Palin, renegotiations. I couldn’t resist,” Tassler said of the TCA events from this past week that also included Fox Entertainment president calling new American Idol judge Mariah Carey during Fox’s executive session. While boasting about CBS’ ratings success (the network finished again as the most watched network and No. 2 in 18-49 to Fox this past season), Tassler took issue with another comment from Reilly who said on Monday that Fox’s reign as the top network among adults 18-49 may come to an end next season when CBS has the Super Bowl and AFC Championship Game. “According to Kevin Reilly ‑‑ thank you, Kevin ‑‑ we’ve just been awarded the 18‑49 crown for next year. Thanks, Kevin, but I think we’ll try to earn it before we claim it.”
Tassler confirmed that the network is in talks with 20th Century Fox TV and creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for a ninth season of veteran comedy How I Met Your Mother. (Tassler’s “pet monkey” wore a HIMYM tie too!) “The show had an incredible year last year,” Tassler said. “We’re having conversations right now about extending it, we want the show to come back next year. We’re still in early conversations, we’re not there yet in terms of resolving the situation, but we’re pretty optimistic.” Talks for a potential Season 9 are starting early because of the concept of HIMYM, which will lead to the reveal of who the mother is, so planning for a final season has to start way in advance. “Craig and Carter have a very strategic wrapup for the show,” Tassler said.
CBS In ‘Early Conversations’ For More ‘Two & Half Men’, Nina Tassler On Future Of ‘CSI’ And ’2 Broke Girls’ Vagina Jokes: TCA
For a third consecutive spring, the future of Two And A Half Men will be a top priority for CBS brass. Two years ago, the goal was to re-sign star Charlie Sheen; last year, it was finding a way to keep the show going without Sheen; and this year it is to keep the show going with new star Ashton Kutcher, whose contract is up in May (as is the series’ license fee deal). “We’ve been very focused on next season,” CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said after the network’s TCA executive session this morning. “There have been early conversations. The spirit of those have been everybody really likes their jobs.” Asked whether there is a deal in place with Kutcher for next year, she said, “Not yet.”
Hit new comedy 2 Broke Girls was a major topic during and after the CBS panel. Critics complained about a lack of depth on the show and an abundance of sexual jokes and racial stereotypes. “I think they’re an equal-opportunity offender,” Tassler said, noting that the network would like to see characters on the show continue to “build out and dimensionalize.” As for the ubiquitous vagina jokes on the show, Tassler or CBS’ Standards and Practices department don’t have problem with that. “Vagina’s not indecent,” Tassler said after the session. “The note we give is we actually want to use it more. So that’s how that goes. As a woman …
We are at the tail end of a TV selling season that saw more bidding wars and production and put pilot commitments than I can remember, and that isn’t lost on the broadcast entertainment presidents. Survivor‘s Jeff Probst opened the discussion at the annual Hollywood Radio & Television Society network chiefs luncheon today by sharing that during his lunch with the executives before they took the stage, everyone was complaining about how crazy and out of whack this pitch season has been. Fox’s Kevin Reilly, who spoke his mind more than anyone else on the panel, quickly jumped in. “(NBC) got cash, (ABC) got competitive against that cash, and we took the bait,” is how Reilly summed up this year’s marketplace. “We all think we were played a little bit. Agents are doing very well this year as a result.” Reilly’s counterparts mostly agreed, though their responses were more measured. “It’s been very, very frantic this year,” CBS’ Nina Tassler said. She blamed media coverage for the increased intensity of the pitch season. “Every single thing that happens is now being reported, from a pitch to speculation on the terms of a deal, and that does absolutely impact the business.” Added NBC’s Jennifer Salke: “I get the email about a media inquiry while the producer is still in the parking lot. That adds to the frenzy.” But it wasn’t all bad this buying season, ABC’s Paul Lee said. “There was also a rush of new energy, with a lot of new people and new ideas; there was lot of ambition in the projects coming in,” he said.
CBS Reveals Ashton Kutcher’s ‘Men’ Character’s Name And Background
During TCA’s CBS executive session, the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler was asked about lessons the network has learned from the Charlie Sheen debacle that culminated in his public firing. “Oh, where do I begin…,” she said. “What we learned is that we have an extraordinary cast — I was at the table red on Monday — we have extraordinary writers and actors, and there is a great value in hiring an actor like Ashton Kutcher, a talented, funny, gifted actor coming in with tremendous commitment and enthusiasm. What you learn is that the show is brilliantly written, extraordinary produced and you have the opportunity to move forward to create this exciting new character and do a great show.” She later added that Men will be as “smart, irreverent and risque” as it’s ever been. “Standards and Practices is already on high alert.” After the session, Tassler was asked to elaborate on her line from the Q&A that “you could cut the air with a knife” at the Monday table read. “The anticipation was great,” she said. “Hearing an actor utter the first line was a relief.” She also revealed that Men co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre opened the table read with what she described as “touching speech.”
At CBS’ executive session, entertainment president Nina Tassler revealed the name of Ashton Kutcher’s character on Two and a Half Men - Walden Schmidt. He is an “Internet billionaire with a broken heart.” She also confirmed our report that indeed the season premiere will be a two-parter that will air over 2 weeks. She wouldn’t “confirm or deny” our story that Charlie Sheen’s character is being killed off, with the season premiere featuring his funeral.
“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.”
CBS executives tried to have it all in their upfront presentation today, telling advertisers that the network effectively reaches a mass audience, young adults and fans of digital media. CEO Les Moonves said that “the economy continues to rebound” and “advertising is back.” He said that auto, retail, finance and technology companies — all major TV advertisers — are doing especially well. CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler added that the network has 100 million fans on Facebook and Twitter. “That’s one hell of a water cooler,” she said. But they didn’t provide much additional data to make their case — in line with other network presentations this week.
After 16 years at NBC – 5 on ER and 11 on Law & Order: SVU – Neal Baer is heading to CBS. In a competitive situation, Baer has signed a three-year overall deal with CBS Television Studios. The pact, said to be in the high-seven figures, includes development as well as showrunner services. It starts on June 2, a day after Baer’s contract on SVU expires. Baer has been the executive producer/showrunner on SVU since the series’ second season. With him departing and the deals of stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni up at the end of this season, the future of the veteran NBC crime drama is in limbo.
Feature Precious, series Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie and movie Temple Grandin were among the winners at the 36th Humanitas Prizes awarded today at a luncheon in Beverly Hills. The monetary prizes recognize writers whose work “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.” Geoffrey Fletcher won the feature film category for Precious, competing in a field that included Oscar winner The Hurt Locker.