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Seated on stage before members of the TV press Wednesday, CBS’s entertainment chief Nina Tassler was asked to address the shake up at The Talk.
The morning show, co-hosted by CBS chief executive officer Leslie Moonves’ wife Julie Chen, is some four months into a second season without its original hosts Leah Remini and Holly Robinson Peete. The pair were replaced by Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Taylor without public explanation.
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When one member of the Television Critics Association asked Tassler to address the ouster as well her network’s decision not to acknowledge the changes on air, the long-running CBS chief opted for the political route: “Any show in its first season goes through multiple changes. It’s happened on our sitcoms, it’s happened on our dramas,” she says, striking a defensive tone.
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To hear Tassler tell it, there’s little or no difference between a casting change on a talk show and casting change on a scripted show – and both are occurences that happen with some degree of regularity. “Ultimately,” she explains, “we were looking at a dynamic, we were looking at a quality in the relationships and a quality in the commentary and we saw an opportunity moving forward into the next season and we took advantage of it.”
The difference, and her rationale for why a departure needs to be explained when its done on a scripted show but not on a talk show, is that the latter is about people rather than characters with story arcs. And, as she sees it, that’s “very different.”
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What’s more, ratings for The Talk sans Remini and Peete, she notes, have remained “virtually the same,” an indication to her that viewers have not been bothered by the changes to the show’s host formula. What was left unaddressed –strategically, to be sure— was the role that Chen and her high powered husband may have played in the decision.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose
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