As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for CBS, Network President Nina Tassler took some time to talk about their upcoming scheduling, as well as their line-up of event series. During the interview she talked about the return of Under the Dome Season 2 on June 30th, the Dovekeepers mini-series, the 13-episode series Battle Creek, written by Vince Gilligan, the Amblin Television series Extant, starring Halle Berry, and why limited series and mini-series have become popular again. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
NINA TASSLER: We have two more mid-season series to schedule. We have a comedy with Bad Teacher, and a drama with Reckless. We’ll be scheduling those later this season. Looking further ahead to summer, we made a big move with scripted programming last summer with Under the Dome. We created a whole new model for original programming in the summer, and we marketed Under the Dome early and often, and on many different platforms. Under the Dome went on to become the biggest scripted summer series in 21 years, and it has delivered outstanding ratings in many countries around the world. Season 2 will premiere on Monday, June 30th, returning to its 10 pm time period. We also have a 13-episode commitment and we’re shooting Battle Creek, which is written by Vince Gilligan. That’s a script that we bought in 2002. It’s been sitting on my desk for about 14 years, and we’re shooting it this season.
After the success of Under the Dome, what sort of event series are you going to have next?
TASSLER: We’ve recently announced a new programming unit for limited-event series and event programming. Our first project is Dovekeepers, a four-hour mini-series from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, for broadcast in 2015. That is based on Alice Hoffman’s acclaimed historical novel. There is great interest in the creative community, right now, to tell all of these shorter-form stories and event stories. We also have another series from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, called Extant. It was created and written by the fresh voice of Mickey Fisher, who is a first-time writer. There is a big star in the leading role, with Halle Berry. What really got us most excited about that project, and working with Spielberg and Amblin again, is that this show is just the perfect melding of classic Spielberg genres. It’s science fiction and it’s family, and nobody does that better than Steven. The show hasn’t started filming yet. It starts production in L.A. in February, and it will premiere on Wednesday, July 2nd at 9 pm.
Under the Dome was a short-run series that had great success and got renewed, but it creatively meandered towards the end of the season. Then, you had another short-run series, Hostages, which had less success, stayed on course and arrived at a comparatively more satisfying conclusion. Are you of one mind about how to go forward with these types of shows? Could Hostages return with an all-new cast and premise?
TASSLER: Hostages certainly had its challenges, but we stuck with it. We let the show have its run. With Under the Dome, we feel the show had an extraordinary appeal. It did phenomenally across all platforms. We feel we learned a lot going forward, in terms of the way to tell stories and the kinds of stories we should tell, episodically, as well as the big summer arc. The most important thing is that we feel it’s great escapist television. And during this summer, coming up with those big summer blockbuster stories is really the way to go with the show. So, we feel that the most important thing is continuing to let the show grow and evolve. We’re adding new characters. The most important thing is the quality of the storytelling and making every episode an event.
Which model will Extant follow?
TASSLER: We could have the same model next summer with Extant, as well.
TASSLER: Well, it’s a 13 episode order. David Shore is working with Vince Gilligan on the script, so we’re waiting to get the rewrite. As soon as we cast it, we’ll start shooting, and shoot 13 episodes. Beyond that, I don’t know. Right now, it’s a 13 episode order.
Why do limited series and mini-series make business sense again?
TASSLER: It’s really about creating new economic models. Certainly, Dome opened the door for us, as far as being strong internationally and domestic. We’re able to take a program like Dovekeepers and monetize it, in a different way. We control the distribution on the show. It is about building an economic model around a title that has value, and creating a financial structure that allows you to produce that kind of programming. And ultimately, it’s good for all of us to have more original programming on the air. Business doesn’t drive the creative. So, in identifying a project like Dovekeepers, looking at something like Extant and looking at Under the Dome, it was about falling in love with a piece of material, getting excited by the creative direction, hearing a vision, and getting excited about the potential for those projects and building the business model around it. And they’re not all modeled the same way. Every one is different.