[07/29/13 - 12:06 PM]
CBS at TCA: Old Broadcast Model Still Works But Open to New Ones
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- Another TCA, another round of tub-thumping by CBS: #1 in viewers for the 10th time in 11 years, #1 in adults 25-54 for the seventh time in the last nine seasons, etc. This time out however the Eye had something new to crow about: its first adults 18-49 season victory in 21 years.

It was the future though that took up the bulk of the network's executive session as Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of the CBS Corporation - filling in for Nina Tassler, who was attending a close friend's funeral - addressed the new financial models currently sweeping the industry. And while their wheelhouse of procedurals and multi-camera comedies tailor made for the syndication marketplace remains as successful as ever, a few new shows have seen them step out of that comfort zone:

"The network license fee, by definition, in the summer has to be small," he said about the just-renewed "Under the Dome." "So it was because of a huge international sale of the show, as well as the participation of Amazon. And we had to make a deal unlike any we've ever made, where they got the show four days later. They have not revealed what their numbers are."

Fall drama "Hostages" likewise presented some challenges. "We've generally avoided serialized shows in those shortened orders, although we watched with great interest at the success of, obviously, a '24.' 'The Following' did very well. So when, obviously, the Bruckheimer people brought us that project, we were very excited. We realized we needed a new model to do it. And I'm sure 'Hostages' will appear, after the 15-episode run, very shortly on the Netflixes and the Amazons, which enables people to catch up."

International sales are also helping fuel various co-productions, such as The CW's "Reign" with Canada's Whizbang Films and Take 5 Productions. "Six or seven years ago, our international revenue was about $400 million. Last year it was a billion two. So it's risen dramatically. The reasons for that are: multiple channels in our big markets, the pay cables and much more competition; the opening up of Eastern Europe, the opening up of Latin America, and the opening up of Asia. So that has grown immensely."

Speaking of The CW, Moonves admitted that while as an entity it "may lose some money, [it] is owned by two companies that produce the shows. The shows bring us more revenue than the losses do. So it's still valuable, and there's still a marketplace for it."

As for other topics covered today:

-- Lots of shows will hit big milestones during the upcoming season: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (300 episodes), "NCIS" (250), "Criminal Minds" (200), "The Good Wife" (100) and "NCIS: Los Angeles" (100).

-- "I really don't want to negotiate in public," he said about the status of negotiations with Time Warner. "That's probably not the best way to do it. Conversations are going on, as recently as 15 minutes ago with me on the cell phone to New York."

-- "We do a lot of pilots and the best get on the air," Moonves said about their "Beverly Hills Cop" pilot. "And we felt we had better choices than that pilot."

-- "It was established as a social experiment," Moonves responded about "Big Brother's" current headline making season. "Clearly that's what's happening this year. I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling, personally. What you see there, I think it, unfortunately, is reflective of how certain people feel in America. It's what our show is. I think we've handled it properly."

-- "We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money and then we offered her even more money because we really didn't want to lose her," the executive said about the actress's departure from "NCIS." "And ultimately she decided she didn't want to do the show. It was purely her decision." Adding, "We don't like losing anybody. But we did everything humanly possible. We feel like we exhausted every opportunity, and she just decided she didn't want to do the show."

-- And finally, we're told there's no plans to burn off its shelved midseason comedy "Friend Me."


-- "Hostages" isn't designed to be a limited series. "I mean, our show, we are doing 15, and we hope to get not only two seasons, but a lot more," Jerry Bruckheimer said. "So this is not a miniseries for us."

-- Aya Cash has been cast as Kal Penn's ex on newcomer "We Are Men," where she'll recur going forward. "Kal's wife is going to be a big part of the show," creator Rob Greenberg said during his session. "And in that instance he marries someone great, and he screwed up... And ultimately I'm not sure where it's going to go, but I think that relationship is one of the most grounding parts of the whole series."

-- Carrie Preston, Gary Cole and America Ferrera are all returning to "The Good Wife" this season. As for new faces, Robert King detailed that "Melissa George is a new person who is coming in to work in Peter's office; Juliet Rylance; Ben Rappaport, who is one of these rebel attorneys who are going to break off with Julianna I mean with Alicia and Cary; and Jeffrey Tambor is coming in as a judge."

-- "There's going to be a love interest in Christy's [Anna Faris] life played by Justin Long," Chuck Lorre revealed about his new series "Mom." "That's going to come up in the first few episodes. And poor bastard doesn't know what he's in for, but he is going to be her first shot at a meaningful relationship in this new chapter in her life." Also set to appear is Octavia Spencer in the fifth episode as "a woman who, it turns out, has bigger problems than Christy."

  [july 2013]  


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