CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller is taking a medical leave after suffering what he characterized as a “mild heart attack”. He is “on track for a full recovery” but will be out for the rest of pilot season, returning at the end of May, after the upfronts. Geller just made the announcement internally in a memo. (you can read it below the post).
In an accompanying email to the company staff, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said that there will be no designated interim entertainment president filling in for Geller. Instead, Moonves urged Geller’s team to step up and offered his full cooperation. Moonves always has been hands-on involved in pilot season, especially in the crucial final stage.
“You all know what to do, and will now need to step up with the same energy, dedication and passion that you bring to your jobs every day – and just a little bit more, given the situation,” Moonves wrote. “As always, I am here to help the team in any way achieve what we all want from this pilot season: great programming and a spectacular new schedule.”
Geller had been out of the office for a couple of weeks following the heart attack, which is atypical for him, especially at the height of pilot season. The decision to sit out the rest of the season is understandable given the pressure-cooker atmosphere and level of stress involved in the final weeks leading to the May upfronts when networks’ pilots are being filmed, delivered and tested and pickup and renewal decisions are made, sometimes going down to the wire.
In Geller’s absence, it is unclear yet who will present CBS’ fall 2017 primetime schedule at CBS’ upfront presentation in Carnegie Hall though Moonves, who introes the annual event, previously stepped in to sub for Geller’s predecessor Nina Tassler at CBS’ TCA executive session when she had a personal matter.
This is Geller’s first full development season as president of entertainment at CBS. He succeeded Tassler in the top programming job at the network in September 2015.
CBS had a solid first crop of new scripted series to be developed and launched under Geller, including dramas Bull and MacGyver and comedies Kevin Can Wait, Man with a Plan and Superior Donuts, all of which already have been renewed for next season.
Geller has been with CBS since 2001 and served as EVP Current Programming for the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group before his promotion to CBS Entertainment president.
Here is Geller’s note:
As many of you know, I experienced a mild heart attack recently and I’ve been resting at home for a couple of weeks. The good news is the doctors have given me an excellent report card and say I’m on track for a full recovery. The bad news is that pilot season and the Upfront isn’t the best environment to achieve that recovery. After consulting with my doctors, my husband, and my family, I plan to take off a few more weeks and return at the end of May.
I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received from Leslie and my 3rd floor colleagues over the past few days. While it will be very strange not being in the trenches with you during this crazy time of year, I have all the confidence in you — our creative teams and talented executives — shepherding our terrific pilots. I know you will all carry the CBS flag to Carnegie Hall with distinction. I’ll be watching with pride.
All the best,
To: All Department Heads at CBS Entertainment
By now you have heard the news about Glenn and his need to take some time off to get better. Fortunately, Glenn’s medical prognosis is good and he is recovering nicely. Our thoughts are with him and we are fully supportive of Glenn focusing on restoring himself to 100%.
At the same time, it’s clear that we must now adjust ourselves to a new situation as we finish our pilots and head into the Upfront. The good news is that, quite simply, there is no organization better equipped for the task at hand.
Of course, Glenn’s leadership, hard work and creativity will be sorely missed. But the team at CBS Entertainment has been together a long time. There is no better group of executives across all of our departments.
You all know what to do, and will now need to step up with the same energy, dedication and passion that you bring to your jobs every day – and just a little bit more, given the situation.
As always, I am here to help the team in any way achieve what we all want from this pilot season: great programming and a spectacular new schedule.
Thanks as always for your talent, your hard work and your support. And it goes without saying, we all wish Glenn a speedy recovery.