At the summer TCA press tour in August, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl faced a barrage of questions about the network’s culture just days after the first story about allegations of past sexual misconduct against CBS CEO Leslie Moonves came out. At the same event, Kahl also revealed that the network was in preliminary talks with Warner Bros TV about a 13th season of its biggest show, The Big Bang Theory.
A lot has changed since then. Moonves was fired after an investigation following more stories about alleged inappropriate behavior, and The Big Bang Theory producers opted to end the series after 12 seasons when co-lead Jim Parsons indicated he would not continue.
While CBS, along with a couple of other networks, is not doing do an executive session at the winter TCA, Kahl answered some programming questions, addressing the end of Big Bang Theory, possible replacements and spinoffs, as well as the fate of the Murphy Brown revival, which couldn’t quite measure up to the high expectations set by the iconic original. He also discussed the future of MacGyver, whose co-lead George Eads is leaving the series, and of Mom, whose stars don’t have new deals for next season. He also talked about the network’s big unscripted push and continuing focus on diversity and touched upon the cultural environment at CBS.
DEADLINE: Did the pending departure of Big Bang put additional pressure on your development to find a new big multi-camera hit?
KAHL: I think it’s big priority every year to find a big multi-cam that develops into a big hit. We are always looking for the “next one,” and that would be the case again this year.
DEADLINE: There has been speculation that spinoff Young Sheldon would succeed Big Bang on the schedule next season. Have you made the decision?
KAHL: That won’t be made until May when we are doing our scheduling meetings. We are gratified to have a show doing as well as Young Sheldon but there are never any guarantees about time periods or where thing are going to end up on the schedule.
DEADLINE: Have you had conversations with Chuck Lorre and Warner Bros TV about a potential second Big Bang spinoff?
KAHL: Nothing formal. The ball is in squarely in their court. If they want to talk to us about it, we are here to listen.
DEADLINE: Any other series you are looking to spin off for next season besides FBI?
KAHL: I don’t believe there are any plans to do so right now
DEADLINE: You have given early renewals to four freshman series. Murphy Brown was not among them. What are the odds of it coming back?
KAHL: It definitely remains in the mix for possibly returning next season, along with several other shows.
DEADLINE: Looking back at how Murphy Brown was rebooted, would you have done anything differently?
KAHL: Creator Diane [English] and Warner Bros came to us with a vision for the show. We were excited for the vision and put it on very true to what Diane wanted to do. We are very proud of the show, and as I said it remains in contention.
DEADLINE: What about MacGyver? Would it continue without George Eads?
KAHL: It’s doing terrific work for us on Friday night at 8 PM, which is a tough time slot, and certainly remains in contention for next year.
DEADLINE: And Mom? Are you optimistic that it would return for Season 7?
KAHL: We would love and expect to have Mom back.
DEADLINE: CBS made major strides in diversity last development season. Do you expect a pilot slate that is as inclusive this year?
KAHL: At the time when questioned we said that diversity was not a one-time effort, it’s an all-the-time effort. You will certainly see inclusivity in our pilots going forward from this point.
DEADLINE: CBS is making its biggest unscripted push in years this season with several new series, led by World’s Best, which premieres after the Super Bowl. What are your expectations?
KAHL: We’ve been successful with very, very long-running reality shows. We made the commitment to try and find the next generation of hits while we still have some strength in that area so the cupboard is not empty when you try find these new shows. Hopefully we can make noise and have some new franchises to put on the schedule going forward.
DEADLINE: What is the current work environment and morale at CBS?
KAHL: I don’t think it’s any secret that last year was a difficult year, and I think the company and our CEO Joe Ianniello have really redoubled their efforts to make CBS a premier place to work in our industry, and those efforts are tangible and are moving forward.
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