Dialogue: Nina Tassler, CBS Entertainment president


Related: Pilot Package: Will the strike's mark be permanent?

More pilot season coverage

The Hollywood Reporter:
The theme of CBS' upfront last year was airing riskier, outside-the-box programming. As most of those shows stumbled, what are you doing for next season?
Nina Tassler: It's still continuing to do business with our heavy hitters and fresh new voices. We have some great new procedurals, certainly "Eleventh Hour" and "The Mentalist." What's interesting is they represent an evolution in the procedural form -- much more character driven and more humorous. But if you look at some of the other pilots/presentations we're doing -- "Mythological Ex" and "Ny-Lon," these are very female-driven character pieces. So we're certainly sticking our toe back in the water (of procedurals), but we're also finding character-driven and female-driven pieces.

THR: Will CBS be less likely to renew a show with passionate fans but low ratings in the wake of "Jericho"? "Moonlight" looks like it could, sooner or later, turn into a similar situation.
Tassler: One thing "Moonlight" has going for it is it wins its time period. Unlike "Jericho," "Moonlight" is not serialized. Moonlight was a presentation (rather than a pilot). By the time the strike hit, we were still making certain discoveries and exploring new ideas and the show's mythology.

THR: Given the success of Mondays, any chance of expanding the comedy block or launching a new hour of comedy somewhere else?
Tassler: That's definitely something we'd like to do. We'd like to open another night for comedy. That's definitely on horizon. Everybody else is lamenting they can't launch new comedy, can't sustain it. Before the strike, "The Big Bang Theory" was giving all the indicators this was going to be another hit comedy for us.

THR: It's tough to imagine CBS not renewing "How I Met Your Mother" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine." Can you confirm they're coming back?
Tassler: I can't confirm, but the last two episodes of "Christine" did great, Britney (Spears) week did great on "Mother," and the next week did great, too. Both shows look good.

THR: Conversely, any chance at this point for "Cane" or "Shark"?
Tassler: They're both on the bubble. We haven't made any decisions yet about "Shark." With "Cane," it's a real long shot.

THR: In the wake of the strike, you've ordered a lot of presentations this season. Will you make that a permanent strategy?
Tassler: It's certainly going to inform future pilot seasons. One of the things we were really able to do is explore a more cost-effective model. What we watched year after year are these big splashy pilots get stripped down for the series and they no longer resemble the pilot. It's much better to shoot a presentation, then make adjustments in an additive way. We're also doing more formats. You have a version of a pilot, then you can see how that show worked in a series. It gives you all the information necessary to determine if something has the legs to go to a series.

THR: For years, CBS hasn't been able to launch a successful show Tuesdays at 10 p.m. -- is it the slot, or the shows?
Tassler: We just haven't found the right show to go there yet.