CBS is first up at TCA, so the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler was the first to get the Steve McPherson question this morning. Asked to comment on McPherson’s exit from ABC yesterday, she said: “Dammit, he got out of doing press tour.” Tassler noted that she is looking forward to “a case of Chardonnay over the holidays,” a reference to McPherson’s wine business, before adding, “He is a great guy, a good friend, and I wish him the best.” After the official presentation, Tassler was asked to compare McPherson’s wine and the wine made by another TV topper, 20th Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman. “I think Steve’s is better,” she said jokingly. It’s probably good that the network already completed negotiations with Newman for Chaos.
Tassler faced questions about casting Julie Chen, wife of CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves, on the network’s mom daytime panel talk show pilot and especially for CBS’ recent decision to pick up the pilot to series over 3 other candidates. BTW, the show now has a title, The Talk (if there weren’t enough parallels to The View already) Tassler said it was the the series’ creator/executive producer Sara Gilbert who suggested casting Chen. As for the pickup to series, “I made the decision,” Tassler said. “I don’t think Les is unhappy with it,… but show screened great and tested the best of all the pilots.” Tassler went further after the Q&A session. “The elephant in the room is that Julie is on the show, but she happens to be terrific on the show,” Tassler said. “She shouldn’t be penalized for being married to the CEO.”
CBS recently received another failing grade from GLAAD for the representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people on its shows. “We’re very disappointed with our track record; we’re not happy with ourselves,” Tassler said, noting that there will be 3 gay/lesbian characters added to returning CBS series next season, including a gay brother to Alicia on The Good Wife.
Tassler also defended the lack of strong female representation on CBS’ new series that feature predominantly male leads, pointing to the addition of Janeane Garofalo as a lead on the upcoming Criminal Minds spinoff.
‘Has ever been a show more aptly named,” Tassler said when asked to comment on the drama surrounding the midseason pickup of Chaos, stressing that it does not reflect the realities of business dealings between vertically integrated companies.
She also said that Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen’s legal problems won’t affect the production of the show and that CBS is planning to air episodes of the original Hawaii Five-0 on Spike leading to the premiere of the remake in September.