CBS' Tassler on New Program Slate


When CBS presented its development slate to ad buyers in New York City last week, it touted 12 comedies, 11 dramas and five reality projects as candidates to join a lineup that already leads the network race for total viewers. With The Unit and The New Adventures of Old Christine looking like good fits for the CBS schedule come fall, time slots may be tough to come by for new fare. CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler spoke to B&C's Ben Grossman about the development slate and what else may be in store for the fall schedule.

What was the overall theme of your development presentation?

The biggest message was, the schedule is so strong and solid that we are able to take bold risks right now.

We are doing some very provocative programming. Because we have so few holes to fill, whatever does make it to the schedule is really the cream of the crop for us.

Was there something you were really pleased with getting on this year's slate?

I think John Turteltaub (National Treasure) is enormously talented. Every year we have been after him to try and get him to do television, and he is shooting Jericho for us now.

We've also been trying to get into business with Imagine for years [the network has Shark from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard on its drama slate]. Those were two things in drama we've been after for years, and we finally landed them.

Outside of big names, were there certain genres you wanted to develop?

We sometimes muse about things we like in terms of a genre, but generally speaking, our message to the creative community is to bring us your passion projects, something you're really excited about.

That has allowed us to get into business with some other people instead of saying we need a particular kind of show.

We want to support the talent and say, “Bring us what excites you.”

How much do the recent FCC rulings affect the process of development?

In development, we have to support the artists that we work with, so it doesn't weigh heavily on our mind during development.

You may already have a new fall comedy on your schedule now. Will Julia Louis-Dreyfus break the Seinfeld curse and get on the fall schedule with Old Christine?

The show is making a good argument to come back next year. It's doing very well. We have seen all the episodes and we know how good the show gets, and I love what I've seen.

Do the Amazing Race numbers worry you, and if so, do you think the switch to a family format last cycle drove too many viewers away?

I don't think so. That show redefines itself every cycle, and I feel that audiences embrace each particular cycle on its own, so I don't think there is any residual impact at all. Amazing Race is actually doing a demo for us at 10 p.m. [Tuesdays] we haven't seen in a while.