CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler opened the Television Critics Association conference July 28 by talking up the success of CBS, which launched two dramas last season (The Good Wife and NCIS: Los Angeles) and heads into the fall with several time period shake-ups including moving The Big Bang Theory to Thursdays at 8 p.m., Survivor to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and CSI: New York and CSI: Miami out or their long-running timeslots.
"It was a terrific year for us," she said. "But we're restless and motivated and as I like to say, paranoid."
At the moment, the network, with its stable of veteran executives, stands in stark contrast to broadcast competitor ABC, which confirmed Tuesday that entertainment president Steve McPherson had abruptly resigned. In a statement McPherson said his future plans include "a new entrepreneurial venture in the spirits business" and continuing "with my ongoing wine business."
Tassler quipped: "Damn it, he got out of doing Press Tour - and I'd like a case of chardonnay over the holidays."
Tassler pointed to the diversity of "source material" in development including the first show based on a Twitter feed with $#*! My Dad Says; "a reboot" of Hawaii Five-O, a new daytime show executive produced by Sara Gilbert that was "inspired by a mommy group [Gilbert] had in her living room"; and The Defenders, about two Las Vegas lawyers, which was originally in development as a reality show at Fox, said Tassler.
"You just never know where your next hit is going to come from," she said.
Big Bang Theory executive producer Chuck Lorre, who also helms top-rated comedy Two And a Half Men and is debuting new comedy Mike & Molly this fall, said he was not consulted about the time-slot move for Big Bang.
"It's not my job and nobody asked my opinion and frankly one assumes they've given it a lot of thought and that it's a good thing for the show," said Lorre referring to Big Bang's move to the lead-off slot on Thursdays.
"Given where we are after three seasons I'd be crazy to argue with CBS' decisions along the way. We grow the crops; we don't have the trucks to bring them to market."
Tassler said the network has been assured by Two And a Half Men producer Warner Bros., that star Charlie Sheen's latest legal troubles would not interfere with the delivery of episodes. "We actually have a very good relationship with [Warner Bros.]," she said.
And while another CBS star, Late Show's David Letterman, has lately intimated that he might like to reduce his work load, Tassler said she has had no discussions with Letterman, whose World Wide Pants also produces Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, about reducing the number of days he hosts Late Show.
"As long as Dave is happy and he wants to stay around," said Tassler. "We're happy to have him there."
Tassler addressed the network's failing grade from GLAAD in depictions of gay and lesbian characters. "We're very disappointed in our track record so far," she conceded, adding that Rules of Engagement, The Good Wife and $#*!My Dad Says will have gay and lesbian characters next season.
She also defended the inclusion of Julie Chen, the wife of CBS Crop. CEO Leslie Moonves, as one of the panelists on Gilbert's new daytime show, The Talk. Chen will remain at The Early Show in some capacity, where she has been an anchor.
"We're going to figure that out," said Chen. "Obviously I cannot be one of the daily hosts [on the Early Show] because that would be too much even for the Chen-bot. I'll probably be doing taped pieces but we're still figuring that out."
Chen also continues to host the network's Big Brother. Tassler, who has known Gilbert since Tassler was her agent more than two decades ago, said that the decision to include Chen was essentially Gilbert's.
"Julie has a terrific reputation and the bottom line is the executive producer of the show [Gilbert] said, what about Julie, do you think she'll be interested. It was [Gilbert's] decision. I was involved. I don't think Leslie is unhappy about it," said Tassler adding that the show screened well with test audiences.
Tassler said that The Talk, which also includes Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Sharon Osbourne, is more than simply a conversation among moms and instead will strive to be an unfiltered conversation for working women balancing family and careers. Chen and Moonves welcomed their first child ten months ago.
"I think the elephant in the room is that, yeah, she's in the show," added Tassler. "But she happens to be terrific and have her own career. Why should she be penalized for being married to [Moonves]."
Andrea Domanick contributed to this report