[01/15/14 - 11:03 AM]
CBS at TCA: Tassler Talks "Frustrating, Exciting" Pilot Season
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- CBS always has plenty to crow about and its executive session at the TCA Winter Press Tour was no different. "Our overall audience is up versus a year ago, and we're coming off the biggest ratings week by any network this season," Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment, told reporters in her opening remarks. "We continue to deliver the deepest schedule with the most hit shows, 15 of the top 20 last week alone. CBS is also home to the top scripted series in each genre. 'NCIS' is the most watched show on television. 'Big Bang' is TV's number one show in 18-49, and 'The Millers,' 'Crazy Ones' and 'Mom' are the number one, two and three new comedies on television."

Tassler nevertheless had to spend the bulk of its session responding to Kevin Reilly's declaration on Monday that FOX is bypassing pilot season. "I thought a lot about this and had to look back and say, look, pilot season isn't perfect, and it certainly is a very difficult time," she said. "It's frustrating, but it's also exciting." Tassler went on to detail that without the pilot process they would never have arrived at "The Big Bang Theory" ("we shot a second pilot and we added Kaley Cuoco"), "CSI" ("[it] was the last script in, and those producers had to get that script in because of pilot season") and "The Talk" (which was originally "a 15 minute presentation").

She added that CBS isn't a slave to the traditional development cycle either, citing the unique straight-to-series arrangements that lead to its summer series "Under the Dome" (returning Monday, June 30) and the upcoming "Extant" (premiering Wednesday, July 2) as well as Vince Gilligan and David Shore's "Battle Creek," which has a 13-episode commitment out of the gate ("[It] was a script, by the way, we bought in 2002," she quipped. "It's been sitting on my desk for about 14 years.").

Beyond pilot talk, Tassler affirmed her commitments to drama "Reckless" and comedy "Bad Teacher," which have yet to be scheduled. "One of the things that's kind of exciting about both those shows is we will have 13 episodes in the can before we schedule, so where we schedule, where we put it, it gives us some unique opportunities."

Other topics included the future of the "Jesse Stone" movies ("It's not to say that we wouldn't do [another one] at some point, but right now, like I said, our event programming ['The Dovekeepers'], we're looking for a bigger headline right now.") and the decision to kill off Taraji P. Henson's character on "Person of Interest" ("Jonah Nolan came in last year and said to us that he was going to kill Carter. I almost killed myself... but sort of the role that she plays in terms of the relationship between Reese and Finch has changed. And he said something so clever. He said, 'I need to bring Catwoman into the mix of this relationship between these two guys.' And he talked about the Shaw character.").

  [january 2014]  


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