CBS at press tour: More gay characters, Chen defended
CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said the network is adding a trio of gay characters to its existing shows following a recent GLAAD report that gave the network a failing grade for the second year in a row.
Addressing reporters at the semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour, Tassler said a gay character will be added to new comedy "$#*! My Dad Says," returning comedy "Rules of Engagement" and legal drama "The Good Wife."
"We're disappointed in our track record so far," Tassler said. "We're going to do it. We're not happy with ourselves."
Asked about the exit of ABC's entertainment chief Steve McPherson, she said, "My first thought: 'Dammit, he got out of doing press tour.' "
Then added: "He's a great guy, a good friend and I wish him the best."
After the panel, Tassler said she'd be fully willing to buy a show from McPherson, should he pursue a producing career.
Tassler also defended casting Julie Chen on Sara Gilbert's upcoming daytime talk show -- whose title, she revealed, will be "The Talk." It's a panel show like "The View" only from a mom perspective. (Chen is the wife of CBS chief Les Moonves and the hire means Chen will have roles on three CBS programs.)
"It was Sara's idea," Tassler said. "We talked about people who had a profile. Julie has a terrific reputation. The executive producer of the show said, 'What about Julie, do you think she'd be interested?' I made the decision, I don't think Leslie is unhappy with the decision."
A couple critics chided Tassler for the "Hawaii Five-0" pilot being "dark and violent" which seemed like a rather odd description for the sun-soaked crime series.
Noting that CBS' upcoming new sitcom "$#*! My Dad Says" was inspired by a Twitter feed, and that freshman legal drama "The Defenders" started as a reality show pitch, Tassler emphasized that the network is developing from a more diverse variety of sources than ever before.
"You never know where your next hit is going to come from," she said. "It was a terrific year for us, but we are restless, motivated and paranoid" [about finding new hits]."
Before the session, CBS announced the upcoming edition of "Survivor" will feature older vs. younger castaways.
Also, the network announced four companies participating in the second season of breakout hit "Undercover Boss" -- NASCAR (Steve Phelps, senior vice president and CMO), DirecTV (Mike White, chairman, president and CEO), Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (Fernando Aguirre, chairman and CEO) and Great Wolf Resorts (Kimberly K. Schaefer, CEO).