TCA: CBS Corporation shows off its wares

CBS took its turn at the stage Wednesday and Thursday at the TCA Winter Press Tour. This writeup not only includes CBS, but its sister properties Showtime and CW.

– Did she throw new sitcom Rob! under the bus? In a rather brief meeting with critics, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said on Wednesday it would take time finding the right companion to the network’s Thursday night monster hit The Big Bang Theory. But given the strong debut of Rob! Thursday night (13.5 million viewers and a 4.1 adult demo rating), they may have just found it.

Ms. Tassler also talked about the network’s development slate, which features up to nine dramas and six comedies all vying for slots next season at the network. Tassler also said she wasn’t worried about NBC’s suddenly stronger lineup (of The Voice and Smash, effective February 5) having an effect on CBS’ strong Monday night lineup, which she defended the often-risque content of. Apparently, some people still have an image of CBS as “The Tiffany Network” from a bygone era.

Look… Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Alan Alda, Bob Newhart, and Murphy Brown aren’t walking though that door anytime soon, unless it’s for MeTV. It’s 2012 – get over it, critics.

– The biggest controversy at the press tour was the panel for CBS’ new hit comedy 2 Broke Girls. Michael Patrick King (who created the show along with Whitney Cummings) came under fire for the ethnic stereotypes and the raunchy humor on the show, to his surprise. At times, the panel became about as intense as the Robert Feder-Warner Saunders fracas at a local AFTRA meeting a few years back. Kind of odd how the critics are shocked about 2 Broke Girls’ humor when Seth McFaralane has been doing this type of humor for years – and at past TCA panels, critics never questioned him about it.

– By comparison, Chuck Lorre’s panels for Two And A Half Men and Mike & Molly were sedate. Lorre said he nearly came close to ending Men after last year’s debacle with Charlie Sheen, who was fired for slamming his boss in the press. Lorre “wished him well” as Sheen has moved on to a new project (FX’s Anger Management.)

Ashton Kutcher was also on hand, and even though his deal is only for one year, he initiated that he would love to return next season.

– Another veteran show holding a panel was NCIS, about to celebrate its 200th episode – a feat only reserved nowadays for animated series or syndicated shows in their first season. So how do you celebrate? “We had cake and some speeches. And we went back to work”, series star Mark Harmon was quoted as saying according to the Hollywood Reporter.  NCIS plans nothing special to mark the occasion (e.g., a flashback show), but when you averages 22 million viewers a week, you don’t really need to.

– Everything old is new again – CBS This Morning is back – but this time with Charlie Rose, Erica Hill, and Gayle King instead of Harry Smith, Kathleen Sullivan, and Mark McEwen, the original trio who launched the newscast on November 30, 1987 to replace the ill-fated The Morning Program.  The new group and exec producer Chris Licht met the press at TCA and noted that Morning was going to be different from competitors Today and Good Morning America – for example, no Al Roker-like weatherman, instead deferring it to the local affiliates’ weather person. Mr. Licht and King also say they may try to get big-name guests on their show including Oprah Winfrey – Ms. King’s former employer and BFF.


– In an executive session with critics at TCA, Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins said his premium channel is investing heavily in documentaries, the first is on former Vice President Dick Cheney. Others in developemnt include rap mogul Suge Kinght, and Richard Pryor. Nevins also said there’s an endgame in place for Dexter, which was renewed for two seasons.

– New seasons of Nurse Jackie, The Big C, and Borgias premiere on April , which is Easter Sunday.

– At the Borgias panel, exec producer James Flynn says he sees the series running four seasons (did he have a talk with ABC’s Paul Lee  when he saw this vision?)

– During his Shameless panel, John Wells’ made waves by saying it was be impossible to sell series he created like The West Wing and ER to the broadcast networks today. But all isn’t lost: Wells said he has sold pilots to the major networks in the last few months. Wells also went on to say that NBC needs to put more groundbreaking shows on the air (and NOT of the reality kind.)

But don’t hold your breath. As long as puerile crap like Fear Factor and Who’s Still Standing occupies space on NBC’s schedule, it won’t happen.

The CW

The CW (co-owned by CBS and TimeWarner) hardly generates any interest from the mainstream media – unless you count female-targeted websites and ratings-obsessed message board geeks.  With that said, here’s what going on – and its not much:

– I can’t believe the critics didn’t fall asleep during this show’s panel… I guess that’s the reason why he was that loud: Paul Fisher took the stage to talk about his new reality show ReModeled where the former modeling agent takes an agency and revamps it – similar in vein to what chef Gordon Ramsey does on one of his 56 reality TV programs, Kitchen Nightmares. He looks to group together 150 agencies into something called “The Network” and plans to help small modeling agencies improve their clout and to change models’ lives and routines. All in all, this does not sound like an interesting TV show. Remodeled premieres on Tuesday.

– Also at TCA, the network has picked up a new game show to air this summer called Oh Sit, in which contestants play a game of musical chairs and race through an obstacle course for big prizes (it’s basically Wipeout meets Name That Tune.)