Television industry veteran Nina Tassler talked about failure and reinvention and her forthcoming project from PatMa Productions that illustrates the sort of female-centric storytelling she and co-founder Denise Di Novi plan to support with their newly formed production company.
Tassler is developing War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam, a television project for Epix that explores the little-examined role of female journalists who were credited with turning public opinion about the conflict. These nine journalists, traveling on their own dime and living in huts with the South Vietnamese, rejected the propaganda machine perpetuating the conflict to tell the true story of the war.
War Torn is the war correspondents’ version of Hidden Figures, which revealed the little-appreciated role of black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. Tassler said PatMa will pursue other stories that highlight those who were instrumental in bringing about social, political and cultural change.
“Telling stories about women who have not necessarily had their stories shared before: stories of resilience, of communities and cohorts who have not had their stories represented on any kind of big platform before, making sure we’re finding writers and voices who have not had their stories told before,” Tassler said in opening the Women in Television Summit, a first-time collaboration between the TV Academy and Women in Entertainment, going on today in North Hollywood.
Tassler has more than three decades of experience in the entertainment and television industry, most recently as chairwoman of CBS Entertainment.
The respected veteran talked candidly about failure — and seizing opportunities. A classically trained stage actress, she traveled to New York to pursue a career in theater, only to fail, Tassler said. That opened the door to work at Roundabout Theatre Co., an off-Broadway company where she learned all aspects of production, from building and striking sets to stage managing productions.
Tassler talked about her stints working for talent agencies and her interview at Lorimar Productions that would launch her longtime collaboration with Leslie Moonves that included 18 years at CBS. Breakfast with a dear friend, Di Novi, a year ago launched the next professional chapter in Tassler’s career, where they will seek to capitalize on what Tassler described as an extraordinary opportunity for women in entertainment.
“So much of what happens in television is predicated on failure,” said Tassler. “In order for new shows to make it to air — more so in the broadcast model — something has to fail. Something else has to come off the air for something else to come on. … Embracing that is important.”