CBS’ Nina Tassler On ‘Supergirl’, ‘Extant’ Changes, ‘CSI’s Future, ‘The Millers’ Demise, Spinning Off ‘Criminal Minds’

Why is Supergirl a CBS and not a CW series, a TV critic asked during CBS’ TCA executive session, which started off with CBS chairman Nina Tassler congratulating sibling CW on its Golden Globe win for Jane The Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez. Tassler said she’d been a fan of the genre since developing The New Adventures Of Superman while at Warner Bros. TV. “There is a human drama there.” As for Supergirl, it is “a real passion of ours,” Tassler said, noting that the premise “embodies so many of the qualities and characteristics of the classic female heroines on CBS,” making her relatable.

Nina Tassler TCA 2015The Supergirl costumes already have been created, now the challenge is to find the right actress to wear them. “We’re looking for quality, looking for charisma,” Tassler said after the session. “We are looking for someone who inhabits the freshness of being a woman in today’s challenging climate, someone who can carry this kind of series on her shoulders.”

As we reported last month, CBS summer drama series Extant is undergoing major changes heading into Season 2, including revamping most of the supporting cast, with only Pierce Gagnon and Grace Gummer returning as regulars alongside star Halle Berry. Tassler addressed the show’s overhaul. “We are making changes in terms of the mythology of show,” Tassler said. “Molly (Berry’s character) is much more proactive after the thereat to her world.” Extant remains “a big part of our summer season,” Tassler said.

At the previous TCA press tour in July, Tassler defended the decision to renew CBS-owned The Millers while canceling other freshmen comedies, such as Friends With Better Lives, The Crazy Ones and Bad Teacher, which it didn’t fully own. Back then, she stressed that the reasons were creative, with the network brass high on the series’ potential.

Six months later, Tassler had to explain CBS’ decision to suddenly cancel The Millers, which had a full-season order, after it faltered in its new Monday time slot.

“We gave it a terrific launch last year, and we are enormous fans of (The Millers creator) Greg Garcia; he is a terrific showrunner who has delivered multiple hits,” Tassler said. “We are looking for shows that get traction and build, like (fellow sophomore) Mom has done this season. It was a tough call. We are looking for him to develop another hit.”

Reflecting on CBS’ struggles with comedy beyond the success of its Chuck Lorre series, Tassler said, “Comedy is hard, but you know what? Here’s what we have to realize: There’s so many different ways – traditional, nontraditional ways – to get their comedy appetite fixed. Whether it’s watching niche, online or big broadcast hit, viral videos or late night. Comedy is alive and all over everybody’s schedule. It takes a little bit longer for things to build.”

Despite trimming the order of mothership CSI series only for the second time in the show’s 15-season history, CBS is not closing the book on the crime procedural just yet, Tassler said, noting that no decision has been made on whether this will be its final season.

As for its upcoming spinoff CSI: Cyber, starring newly minted Golden Globe winner Patricia Arquette, there are no current plans to incorporate current events, like the Sony hack, Tassler said. But the series about cyber crimes “is reflecting what is happening in our world today,” Tassler said. “It’s very relevant and topical.”

Another spinoff, the planted offshoot from Criminal Minds, also raised a question in light of the first such attempt, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, fizzling after a short run. “First lesson is do it better,” Tassler said. The spinoff is being shepherded by Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer, who “has been part of Criminal Minds since Day 1. Having her, one of the best showrunners in the business, behind it, that’s the key difference between this spinoff and the first one.”

Tassler refused to comment on whether original Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen would appear in the comedy’s upcoming finale.

CBS has not heard back from the NFL yet as to whether Thursday Night Football will return but said “we were thrilled to have it” this season. “The coordination from all different parts of the network was great.”

Asked about the success of African-American programming on the broadcast networks this fall with rookies How To Get Away With Murder, Empire and Black-ish, Tassler said “it informs how we continue to work harder on diversity; it is a priority for us. We had good fortune to have Halle Berry come to network TV.”

On the upcoming Odd Couple redo, Tassler said that the chemistry between stars Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon “was palpable”. Getting the seal of approval of Garry Marshall, creator of the 1970 series starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, was important, Tassler said. Marshall got behind the new version and is very involved in the production. He also will be on The Odd Couple TCA panel later today.

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