Pilot Season: Love It or Hate It? Two Entertainment Chairmen Sound Off

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Nina Tassler and Kevin Reilly

CBS' Nina Tassler and Fox's Kevin Reilly explain why they are, respectively, for and against it.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

CBS' Nina Tassler: Why I Love Pilot Season

Our business is hard.

Showrunners have hard jobs. Think about how diamonds are made. It's compression; it comes out of coal. And then a diamond comes out. It takes that kind of pressure to deliver a gem. I think back to all of the successes that we've had — had we not piloted them, we never would have had the opportunity to do the kind of R&D, to do the kind of changes that are needed on a Big Bang Theory pilot like adding Kaley Cuoco.

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On Numbers, we kept David Krumholtz, changed the cast and went forward into series. It's an incredibly difficult time of year. It's very challenging, but it's out of those challenges that something wonderful comes.

Fox's Kevin Reilly: Why I Hate Pilot Season

I'm not against the idea a prototype episode. You learn a lot by shooting. You get to look and make sure all the elements have come together, particularly the cast. But a pilot as a sales tool, which is mostly what this becomes about, I find counterproductive. The baked-in system of television is that you will have a very low ratio of success.

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We're going to make 15 drama pilots and hope that we can take four. And that for me is a derby, and it, by definition, creates less focus. I don't care what anybody says: 99.9 percent of the time it is all-consuming to mount a pilot during pilot season. You are blowing the thing dry by [the upfront] in May. Nobody has thought about the series.