After a decade at the helm of CBS Entertainment, Nina Tassler will be stepping down at the end of 2015. She will segue from her current post as chairman of CBS Entertainment to a CBS advisory role through at least 2017 when her current contract expires. Tassler will be succeeded by Glenn Geller, head of Current Programming for CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Studios. He has been named President, CBS Entertainment, leading entertainment programming for primetime, daytime and late night, as well as program development in all genres. Reporting to CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves, Geller will assume his duties effective immediately. He will be working closely with Tassler for the next three and a half months, while she is wrapping her tenure as chairman, but he will be driving the buying decisions as the executive who will be overseeing pilot and series pickups next year.
Tassler, who signed a new contract last year when she was upped from president to chairman of CBS Entertainment, approached Moonves about leaving her post sometime over the summer. She had started her career in theater and has been looking to return to the stage as a producer. She also has a book coming out next year. With CBS’ primetime and daytime strong and the late-night transition completed, Tassler felt it was a good time to depart.
“Nina and I have been colleagues and friends for 25 years,” said Moonves. “It is one of the proudest partnerships of my professional life. We’ve enjoyed amazing success together, both here and at Warner Bros., and it’s been a privilege to watch her talents and accomplishments grow. Nina is a creative executive with the instincts of an artist, so it came as no surprise that she would eventually want to express those talents beyond television. All of us here are grateful and proud of CBS’ success with Nina leading our entertainment programming, and we will be the biggest fans for all her future endeavors.”
This is only the third change at the top of CBS Entertainment since Moonves was named to the post 20 years ago. He was succeeded by Nancy Tellem who, in turn, passed the baton to Tassler. All have been orderly transitions with a seasoned CBS executive taking over the president of entertainment job. Geller is the first executive named to the post by Moonves who has not been part of Moonves’ team at Warner Bros. TV that followed him to CBS. This marks the second change in CBS’ top development team heading into next season; the network’s long-time head of comedy Wendi Trilling departed in May.
CBS is known for promoting within its ranks. There had been chatter that David Nevins, who runs sister cable network Showtime, may take the CBS Entertainment job, but he just got a big promotion at Showtime to CEO. While Geller is not widely known in Hollywood, he is well liked within CBS where he has seen his responsibilities grow over the years. A replacement for him also is expected to come within the CBS fold the way it happened with Trilling, succeeded by Julie Pernworth.
Geller has been with CBS since 2001, serving as director and VP of current programming at the network before segueing to CBS TV Studios as SVP Current Programming. Since June 2013, Geller has served as EVP Current Programming for the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, overseeing the combined network/studio current department and creative affairs for more than 30 primetime series on CBS and The CW.
“Glenn Geller is an accomplished programming executive who has been a major part of CBS’s success since 2001,” Moonves said. “When Nina told me her plans, we both knew we had an obvious successor in our own ranks.”
Tassler joined CBS in August 1997 as VP Drama, CBS Productions, before moving to the network as SVP Drama Development in 1998, then becoming President of Entertainment in 2004 and chairman in 2014.
With Tassler at the helm, CBS has ranked as the most watched network for 12 of the past 13 years, adding such popular series as The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Undercover Boss, Mom and Scorpion. She also recently expanded CBS’ original scripted slate to the summer with Under The Dome, Extant and Zoo. As head of drama, Tassler developed the blockbuster CSI and NCIS franchises.
“CBS is a special place,” said Tassler. “For the past 18 years, I’ve been blessed to be part of an amazing team that has lifted this network to an enviable run of success. It all starts at the top with Leslie, my boss, mentor and friend for two and a half decades, and a leader who inspires excellence in every part of the creative and business process. I will always love this place, yet it is time for my next chapter, and I’m thrilled that I can pursue my other creative interests while still being part of the Company. I pass the baton to Glenn with great confidence and pride. He is an outstanding leader with great respect for the artistic process and a clear vision for programming success.”