CBS executive session: Peterson's CSI departure, Moonlight fans, and a different sensibility - TCA Report
Anyway, she addressed the departure of William Peterson from CSI, just about right off the bat, giving the gathered writers a clue as to the nature of the character who will be coming in to fill his void. Oh, and Tassler is studying to become a cantor. For some reason, a reporter asked her about that.
OK, first the Peterson business. He'll be leaving after the tenth episode of the upcoming season, though Tassler says "this won't be the last we see of him." Why did he leave? Because he's an artist! "Billy is an extraordinary guy. Let's not forget his roots and origin in theater; he's still an artist and very passionate and committed to the show [as an executive producer]. (His departure) is just an artist's choice to change his life." He'll be working on a play soon, she said.
The character that will replace him -- he's still being cast, though in the scrum, she said that they approached John Malkovich's people about the role, but he turned them down, and that Laurence Fishburne would be "great for the role," and was a name that they considered -- is an outsider to the Vegas CSI unit, and won't be the leader of the team at the outset. Through testing, he has found out that he has the same genetic profile that has been found in serial killers, and he's making "a journey to discover his true character." There will be a two-episode overlap between the new character's arrival and Peterson's departure, according to Tassler.
- When asked about why, after last year's more daring pilots, this year's are more in the traditional CBS vein, Tassler said that "there is certainly a couple of shows are more within our wheelhouse. But there is a marked departure and tone in terms of sensibilty. Yes, we're doing procedurals, but sensibility is different." What does that mean, the cops will be making more jokes as they take blood samples? Anyway, she did mention that they're trying to start a new comedy night on Wednesday, and cites Worst Week and the returning Big Bang Theory as two shows that are pointing the way to a new era of comedy on the network.
- She was asked how CBS was the only networks to get so many pilots (or extended trailers for shows) to the critics, something the other networks couldn't accomplish. "We didn't start pilot season early," she said. "We have best and smartest development executives in town. The 11th Hour and The Mentalist were bought early in the (development) season last year. Literally once the strike was resolved we were ready to go."
- Britney Spears didn't save How I Met Your Mother, Tassler said. They're "very proud" of the show, she explained. "I think the show is beloved by most in this room and the audience. It was never in danger, we just took a while to make the announcement." She explained in the scrum that the delayed announcement was more a matter of timing and looking at the schedule than any indication that the show was on the bubble.
- Speaking of Brit Brit, Tassler is encouraging the practice of stunt casting. "Actors (and their reps) come to us directly and say 'I love that show and am a fan,'" which leads the network to approach the show's writers to see if they can work them in somehow. For the network, it's a win-win, so "you'll probably see more of that, yes."
- Tassler said that Sarah Chalke will be in more episodes of How I Met Your Mother. When asked if Sarah's the mother, she said "Right now I don't think she's the mother." Is that one executive's opinion, or fact? Not sure.
- She doesn't regret cancelling Moonlight, despite the outcry from the show's fans. Tassler claimed that, unlike the campaign that successfully brought back Jericho, the one for Moonlight was "more actor-driven than show-driven." I guess she felt people missed Alex O'Loughlin more than the show itself. When I asked her if the failure of Jericho after the "Nuts" campaign brought it back signaled the last time the network would listen to a fan protest like that, she said she didn't think it would.
- Despite the rumors that are floating around the internet, The Price is Right will not be retooled to look like American Idol. "We're very respectful of the The Price is Right brand and the look of that show," she said. Before Bob (Barker) stepped down, we talked about a multi-year strategy to put a fresh coat of paint on the show and on games that haven't been updated in 30 years. But we're very respectful just make minor adjustments to show." As for why longtime producer Roger Dobkowitz was let go, she told me in the scrum that getting one of "Drew (Carey's) guys" in was part of the long-term plan for the show. Hmm... seemed like Drew got along with Dobkowitz this season. Maybe more was going on behind the scenes than we realized.