LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "I really didn't expect that question this morning, I'm really taken by surprise," CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler deadpanned at the TCA Winter Press Tour when asked about "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen's recent antics.
Tassler was on hand for the network's executive session, which not surprisingly led off with the sitcom star's much ballyhooed exploits. "We have a high level of concern, how could we not?" she said. "But I have to speak to this personally first. I was, on a very basic human level, concerned of course. This man is a father. He's got children, he has a family. So obviously there's concern on a personal level.
But you can't look at it simplistically. Charlie is a professional. He comes to work, he does his job, he does it extremely well. We're taping tonight. And like I said, it's very complicated... So on a personal level: obviously concerned. On a professional level: he does his job, he does it well, the show is a hit. And that's really all I have to say."
Among the other topics:
-- "It's kind of the nature of the business," Tassler said when asked about Mark Harmon's contract on "NCIS," which expires at the end of the current season. "You become a victim of your own success. Contracts will come up, they get renegotiated and those deals get closed. And we are very confident that Mark will continue on with the show. He's very happy and we are thrilled to have him."
-- As far as the future of "Bleep My Dad Says," Tassler told reporters "like any show in its first year, you're always making creative adjustments... whether or not [they're] coming back next year, everything's up for grabs in May."
-- "It's a force of nature," Tassler said with regards to "American Idol," which will take on "The Big Bang Theory" on Thursday nights starting next week. "The good part is 'The Big Bang' is a superstar... it has a very loyal audience. I don't know quite what's going to happen, it's going to be very interesting. But we know that in terms of 'Big Bang' fans, what they enjoy watching on Thursday nights, we know we have the audience there."
-- "I don't think the audience would necessarily agree with you," Tassler bristled when asked if veterans "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY" were getting a little long in the tooth. "Both shows are doing incredibly well in their new time periods given what was there before... as long as those shows continue to be competitive, as long as the fans still continue to watch the shows they're going to stay on the air."
-- Tassler also confirmed they have six more episodes of "Flashpoint" yet to air, "mostly likely" this summer.
-- And lastly, in regards to cutting A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster back on "Criminal Minds," Tassler said, "I wouldn't say it was just budget reasons. And I would say that over the past couple of years, you know, many shows take a look at adjusting their casts, their cast members, you know, sometimes for financial reasons. Other times, and in this case what it's about, which was we were developing a spin-off. And when we had 'Suspect Behavior' we looked at sort of the evolution of the franchise, we looked at what this vision of the FBI, how they actually did their jobs, what were the nature of the characters being introduced in the sequel and that did give us an opportunity to reflect back on the desired structure of the team on 'Criminal Minds.'
So there were some discussions about, you know, what role did A.J. play, what role does Paget play, is there an opportunity here with the spin-off to look back at the original show and say how can we build out that brand, how can we, we can evolve so that the roles of the agents in the original show? We hope Paget stays with the show, she has the option to stay there, we would like for her to continue on the show but I can tell you that across the board there are discussions about cast members changing [on every show]. It happens more often than necessarily is shared by the press but it is the nature of the evolution of any show."