CBS execs David Stapf, Julie McNamara and Deborah Barak lifted the lid on a variety of topics including becoming a “bona fide” premium studio, its appetite for overall writer deals, its forthcoming 90210 reboot and its Michelle Yeoh-fronted Star Trek spin-off.
CBS Television Studios President Stapf, CBS All Access content boss McNamara and Barak, President, Business Operations, CBS Entertainment, CBS Television Studios and CBS News, were speaking at the INTV conference in Israel.
In terms of writer deals, Stapf admitted that it was “challenging” and that there is currently a “premium on talent.”
“You need those tentpole players on your roster. We continue to nurture those relationships. For a lot of talent, it’s not just about money, it’s about getting their art seen. We haven’t entered into any of the bidding wars, we talk about it and consider it and evaluate each one. There will be those. Our focus – we have about 100 writers on our roster – many of whom we’ll do everything we can to keep. It’s no denying it’s challenging,” he said.
The execs revealed that the 90210 reboot came from a meeting with Tori Spelling and CBS TV Studios’ unscripted team. The show will launch on Fox this summer and Barak said it was an example of selling shows to the best home.
Stapf reiterated the fact that Luke Perry, who died earlier this month, was not going to star because of his commitments on Riverdale but that the writers room, which opened this week, will need to figure out how to deal with his death.
He added that reboots help “cut through the clutter” but that he hears Love Boat pitches almost every week but has yet to hear a “great” one.
McNamara warned that it needs a combination of reboots and original series to attract an audience. “To become a service that is only known for IP and reboots is not a premium space anymore,” she said, pointing to titles such as Strange Angel and Why Women Kill. You have to take risks.”
In Star Trek news, Stapf revealed that the Michelle Yeoh-fronted spin-off, Section 31, which is at CBS All Access, will shoot in Toronto but that “it’s a good couple of years away.”