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Nina Tassler, entertainment president, CBS: We want to continue building big franchise dramas and multicamera comedies, looking to continue our strength after launching “NCIS: LA.” And we’re always happy with “Big Bang Theory.”
THR: Based on what’s working and what didn’t for broadcast this season, what are some take-away lessons for developing next season?
Tassler: “The Mentalist” really has been a very formidable success for us. We know our audience is really responding to the balance of humor and drama in our one-hour shows. What we deduced from that is there is a real passion for shows that have that blend — a franchise show, humor and strong character.
THR: How many comedies and dramas are you planning to pick up?
Tassler: We’re shooting close to the same number of pilots as last year. We usually pick up two to three dramas and one to two comedies, but it always depends on the pilots.
THR: You have a hit comedy block on Monday. How do better differentiate content-wise Wednesday’s lineup? You don’t just want it to be the B-list, right?
Tassler: Certainly no one aspires to be that. We look at the comedies and evaluate them for the schedule. We have some strong tentpoles that we’re building around.
THR: Has ABC’s success on Wednesday with comedies raised the bar for your block that night?
Tassler: I think it’s a great accomplishment for them, and it bodes well for all of network television when ABC has “Modern Family” and Fox with “Glee.” It’s just healthier when new shows are successful.
THR: Eight of your 10 hourlong pilots are crime dramas. I’m sure you get this question every year, but isn’t that perhaps too many?
Tassler: Not yet, when you think of how successful “NCIS: LA” has been. “Chaos” and “Quinn-tuplets” are certainly not crime, and tonally there’s so much more humor across the board.
THR: Any chance of adding any scripted programming in the summer, or are you going with a pure reality lineup?
Tassler: We haven’t completely determined, but it’s done so well for us. And we still have “Flashpoint.” Conversations are ongoing.
THR: You cast an African-American lead on “CSI,” and now Forest Whitaker is cast in the “Criminal Minds” spinoff. Was it a conscious choice to become more diverse?
Tassler: Diversity has always been a priority. It is a conscious choice across the board to pay attention and to add diversity any way we can. Whitaker was also the best actor for the job.
THR: On the other hand, CBS got a failing grade from GLAAD last year. Can’t cop dramas have gay characters?
Tassler: Any show can have gay characters. We’re conscious of that as well. This year one of our pilots, “Quinn-tuplets,” has gay characters. Any series can. This year we made a concerted effort to suggest to producers, if not in pilot, then as we go forward.
THR: “Hawaii Five-O” will be Alex O’Loughlin’s third series on CBS in three years. So I assume you’re thinking, “Right guy, wrong shows so far”?
Tassler: We definitely think he’s the right guy. He’s certainly an incredibly talent, but we’ve also watched him develop and evolve. In our business, actors being given opportunities usually bodes well. George Clooney did well with all the chances he was given.
THR: What are some of the potential titles for “Shit My DadSays”?
Tassler: Um, one is “Shat My Dad Says.”
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