As part of the CBS portion of the TCA Press Tour, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler took some time to talk about current and upcoming shows for the network. During the interview, she spoke about how recent violent events might impact their decision-making process for the coming pilot season, the confidence they have in sophomore series Person of Interest, what made Elementary the right show for the coveted post-Super Bowl spot, the renewal status of How I Met Your Mother, and their plans for Under the Dome, from Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and Brian K. Vaughan, and why summer is a good spot for it. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Question: Going into pilot season, how much will recent violent events have an impact on your decision-making process?
NINA TASSLER: I don’t think there’s anyone on this planet whose life hasn’t been changed and/or affected by the recent course of events. I’m a parent. I’m a mother. What happened has shaken me, and all of us, to our core. To the extent that the people we come to work with have a renewed sensitivity towards what we do, absolutely. We are parents, and we respect the jobs that we have. We respect the relationship we have with our audience. So, I can only tell you that, in looking at our pilots, it is about picking and selecting the very best material that we can. We are fortunate, in that we have an extraordinary roster of all-star players developing pilots for us this year. They, too, have a similar level of awareness and sensitivity. The reality is that we have to pick the best material. We have to continue to make decisions about supporting great quality shows on television. Nothing that is on the air is inappropriate. And our attention is always to continue to be a broadcaster that creates content for a vast diverse audience.
Person of Interest has been quite successful for CBS, and it has a slight science-fiction element to it. Does that give you confidence, going forward in the development slate, to do other shows that have a science-fiction or fantasy element to them?
TASSLER: Well, Person of Interest is having a great year and is the fastest-growing sophomore show on network television. It has got a science-fiction element to it, and what that does tell us is that we can continue to evolve and grow certain genres and forms on TV. It’s a very heavy character piece, and that is encouraging. We’re excited about the performance this year, and we think it’s only going to continue to be a bigger show next year.
What made Elementary the right show for the coveted post-Super Bowl spot?
TASSLER: We thought Elementary was the best choice. Vegas and Elementary are competing for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, alternating during the beginning of the season. It was a choice we made. It’s a character procedural. We think it’s got a lot of great appeal. The relationship between Holmes and Watson is palpable. And we just felt it was a better fit, for right after the Super Bowl, in terms of appealing to all the viewers.
What’s holding up the How I Met Your Mother Season 9 renewal?
TASSLER: Well, I will be very happy to report, in a very few days, that things will be resolved. We’re very confident and excited that things will all work out, and almost everything is completed.
What can you say about Under the Dome and why you decided to save that for the summer?
TASSLER: Under the Dome is based on Stephen King’s best-selling book. It’s produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. We begin shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina in February. You will start seeing promos for it during the Super Bowl. The situation with Under the Dome was that the script was developed at Showtime, and their option lapsed. When I got a call saying, “We’ve got this script. Take a look,” I read it over the weekend, and I loved it. Ever since Jericho, I’ve loved these big-idea shows. I loved this script. And the auspices aren’t too shabby.
You’re talking about Stephen King. You’re talking about Steven Spielberg. We had a meeting with Brian K. Vaughan, who is also not chopped liver, and what we heard was this extraordinary vision for 13 episodes, and beyond. I said, “You know, we really have a unique opportunity here. If we package it properly and put the right auspices in place, we can do a big summer event and go straight from script to 13 episodes.”
Also, summers have to make some noise. We really wanted to this in the summer. We’ve got a lot of fresh, great content. So, it was a combination of the auspices. It was hearing Brian’s vision. We brought Neal Baer in to run the show with Brian. Niels Arden Oplev is directing the pilot. Jack Bender is the producing director on the series. So, when you have that kind of power above the line, you’ve got the goods to really take a bold move and program it during the summer.
Viewers on big-concept shows have been burned quite often by shows that just never quite ended and left the big concept hanging. So, at the end of the 13 episodes of Under the Dome, will it be resolved, or will it be left open for another summer?
TASSLER: Look, I’d love there to be another summer. I’d love this to be something that people really look forward to. Look at how excited people get for Big Brother. We’d like to build it into a summer franchise. There will be a key piece of information the audience will have, at the end of the summer.