For a third consecutive spring, the future of Two And A Half Men will be a top priority for CBS brass. Two years ago, the goal was to re-sign star Charlie Sheen; last year, it was finding a way to keep the show going without Sheen; and this year it is to keep the show going with new star Ashton Kutcher, whose contract is up in May (as is the series’ license fee deal). “We’ve been very focused on next season,” CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said after the network’s TCA executive session this morning. “There have been early conversations. The spirit of those have been everybody really likes their jobs.” Asked whether there is a deal in place with Kutcher for next year, she said, “Not yet.”
Hit new comedy 2 Broke Girls was a major topic during and after the CBS panel. Critics complained about a lack of depth on the show and an abundance of sexual jokes and racial stereotypes. “I think they’re an equal-opportunity offender,” Tassler said, noting that the network would like to see characters on the show continue to “build out and dimensionalize.” As for the ubiquitous vagina jokes on the show, Tassler or CBS’ Standards and Practices department don’t have problem with that. “Vagina’s not indecent,” Tassler said after the session. “The note we give is we actually want to use it more. So that’s how that goes. As a woman in my job, I have no problem hearing it, saying it; it’s part of my physical body.”
On the subject of veteran CSI, during the panel Tassler touted “the terrific cast transitions” on the show, which saw Ted Danson stepping in for Laurence Fishburne and Elizabeth Shue replacing Marg Helgenberger. “Ted is a wonderful addition to the cast, he has brought a wonderful sense of vitality and quirkiness to the show,” Tassler said. As for how long CSI, now in its 12th season, and its spinoffs can continue, “I’d love to see the CSIs run forever,” Tassler said after the panel. “Nothing runs forever. How you handle it, the most important thing is how you respect your audience, how you respect your cast, and being incredibly sensitive to how you wrap up any show when it ends a successful run. But we are in those talking stages now (about how to end the CSIs).”
Asked about the dismissal of The Talk co-hosts Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini, Tassler compared the process to that of tweaking the cast of a scripted series. “Any show in its first season goes through multiple changes, there is little or no difference to changing the cast on a talk show. We’re looking at the dynamic, the quality of conversation and commentary. We saw an opportunity and took it.”
Tassler’s reaction to the mostly negative early reviews of new sitcom Rob starring Rob Schneider: “Well, we haven’t traditionally been the beneficiaries of great reviews. “It’s not Downton Abbey, but it’s great. Rob is fantastic. We’ll just need to see.”
On the move of The Good Wife to Sundays: “It feels a better fit on Sunday,” Tassler said. Frequent football overruns have pushed the show’s start time around, drawing complaints from fans, and the ratings have not improved. But “the audience that watches on Sunday night is upscale, very female and very engaged,” Tassler said.
CBS’ midseason drama The 2-2, which is yet to be scheduled, will probably have a late spring launch, Tassler said. As for next season, “every year we introduce usually three dramas, two comedies per season, and we’ll probably be at that same number.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.