As the former president of two TV studios, Les Moonves finds the stagnation at Paramount Television especially aggravating. "Paramount hasn't had a grand-slam home run since Frasier," Moonves said. "They need some." Frasier premiered in 199 --, the same year Paramount Television Productions Garry Hart was put in charge of the studio's prime time TV operations.
No more. Now that Viacom Co-COO Moonves heads both the TV studio and CBS network, he's swinging the ax-and it hit Hart. The former Universal Television exec fell as part of a management shuffle that knits CBS and Paramount Television together. The move puts in a team that has worked with Moonves since his days running Lorimar Television and Warner Bros. Television.
Replacing Hart is Dave Stapf, CBS's head of current programming and longtime Moonves lieutenant. Nina Tassler moves from head of CBS drama development to president of CBS Entertainment.
CBS Entertainment President Nancy Tellem is the point person in charge of both the network and CBS Productions, rechristened the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group.
The most dramatic changes will be felt at Paramount Television. The problems there are similar to those at Paramount's movie division. Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone and ex-President Mel Karmazin starved the unit for cash, sending ex-Paramount chief Jon Dolgen searching for modestly budgeted hits rather than blockbusters.
Moonves, however, doesn't think Paramount's problems are purely financial. He blames "a lack of aggressiveness about the television business. You're playing the game to get Raymond and Survivor." But in the five years CBS and Paramount have been together, it has failed to deliver.
Moonves says he always felt like just another buyer, which doesn't work when ABC, Fox and NBC all have sibling TV studios. "You need a studio and network working hand in hand. A studio's first port of call has to be the network. I need a place that's serving CBS."