TCA Press Tour Day Two: Tassler on Dave, McPherson and those cross border co-pros

BEVERLY HILLS, CA–There were slot machines and Vegas show girls at breakfast this morning as CBS kicked off the first real day of press tour sessions. Were they gambling on familiar faces and stay-the-course programming to remain at the top of the network ratings race? Or were we gambling on the scrambled eggs and bacon?
Both repeated throughout the day. CBS is nothing if not consistent and their shows are distinguished, at this point, by being almost indistinguishable. The CBS schedule is still dominated by crime procedurals featuring male leads who seem to get that much older every year, almost in step with the age of CBS chairman Les Moonves. Coincidence? Whatever, the follow-the-Boomer-bulge game plan still seems to be working.
At the morning executive session, programming president Nina Tassler (above right) stepped around Tuesday’s big news of rival Stephen McPherson’s sudden departure from ABC, kidding that her initial response was, “Damn it, he got out of doing press tour.” Her next well rehearsed line was that she would expect McPherson to send over “a case of chardonnay over the holidays,” a reference to his stated plans to get more into the spirits business. “He’s a good friend, and I wish him the best,” she concluded. Next.
“Okay…if she doesn’t renew us…take her out…”
Tassler didn’t exactly have encouraging news on the Canadian-American co-pro front. The Bridge was swiftly yanked because “the show wasn’t delivering the numbers that we needed,” she said. As for future Can-Am co-pros, Tassler said “I think we’ll continue to look at other ways to do other Canadian productions and other kinds of scripted shows during the summer.” Will she order more seasons of Flashpoint? “Maybe,” she said. “I haven’t decided yet.”

Which is sorta what she said last summer, when she waited almost until CBS’s option ran out before reupping the Toronto-based cop drama.
Tassler was asked about rumours David Letterman, who has two years remaining on his contract, might start “playing by the Johnny rules,” as Aaron Barnhart put it, by taking a couple of nights off each week. The idea, the Kansas City Star man suggested, would be to ease in a replacement host to a new generation.
Tassler gave terse “not right now” when asked if she had spoken to Letterman about this.
“And do you feel fairly confident that Mr. Letterman will be renewing with CBS?” came the follow-up. Tassler issued the usual “You know, as long as Dave is happy and Dave wants to stay around, we’re very happy to have him there.”
The network executive snuck in a plug for Craig Ferguson, saying CBS was thrilled to have both of them.
The idea of guest hosts sitting in for Dave twice a week seems odd. For one thing, Ferguson has what another critic down her characterized as a “Prince of Wales” clause in his contract. He has to be offered Dave’s job when the time comes, or a penalty must be paid. It’s the same kind of deal Tonight temp Conan O’Brien had at NBC.
Also Letterman has had to be practically dying to give up his job for even a day or two in the past. Then again, Carson was his idol and if it was good enough for Johnny, we might be near the point where it is good enough for the 63-year-old Letterman.

Tassler also announce that the next addition of Survivor would be kids vs. old people, or shirts vs. skins, something like that. Assurances were given that Charlie Sheen’s “various off-job issues” were not expected to effect production this season of Two and a Half Men. She doesn;t expect any push back from parent councils for what one cheeky critic called “Feces My Dad Says.” The fact that the part of the son has been recast on the William Shatner sitcom should not be seen as the kiss of death, she says, pointing out that both Big Bang Theory and Numb3rs were recast.
Tassler revealed that her just announced new ripoff of The View, headlined by Sara Gilbert (above left), Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, beat out four other daytime projects CBS had in development, including a remake of the old game show Pyramid with Andy Richter and another project with chef Emmeril Lagasse.

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