CBS’ morning TCA executive session gave Entertainment President Nina Tassler the opportunity to address her network’s most pressing issues, most particularly Jericho, Mandy Patinkin, Jericho, Moonlight, Jericho, Mandy Patinkin, Drew Carey and Jericho.
Why the walls of Jericho didn’t come tumbling down: "I think a couple of things," Tassler says. One is we really hoped it would have done better. We really saw an opportunity to improve the time period. But we love the show creatively, and as I’ve said before, when we came back from the affiliates conference in Las Vegas, the e-mails had reached a certain pitch. We really saw a level of audience involvement and investment in the show. We got a glimpse at sort of how the numbers did vis-à-vis the DVR. And we really wanted to take a step back and say, ‘Look, maybe this show needs a second chance.’
So we said, ‘Let’s give it a shot at midseason. Let’s give it a seven-episode order.’ But we’ve really said to the fans, who have been incredibly loyal and incredibly devoted, ‘You have got to be our Jericho rangers. You’ve got to recruit more viewers.’ And so far it looks like that’s what we’re going to do."
Tassler provided anecdotal evidence of doctors and photo shop employees who approached her and expressed their love for the show, also referencing the extensive online discussion of the show as part of the cause for its reprieve.
"I can only tell you, as you really take time to go back and look at those specific communications, people really revealed how involved they were. And you also got a chance to see the way people talk to each other. I mean, that’s really unique. It’s one thing when you’ve got an audience communicating to someone at the network. But you really had a chance to see the way they talked to each other, the way they communicated about characters, the way they talked about storylines. That gives you a very unique opportunity right now. So I think we are looking at a shift and a change."
Tassler said that the show is going to open on Stanley and Mimi’s engagement and that the seven midseason episodes will have "heightened, dramatic stakes. We’ll have Jericho producer Carol Barbee and several of the show’s stars on the dais tomorrow, so I’m sure they’ll have more details. Stay tuned.
Oh, Mandy! As everybody knows by now, it was announced on Monday (July 16) that Criminal Minds star Mandy Patinkin was leaving the high rated series due to "creative differences," which isn’t exactly what Tassler told reporters on Wednesday.
"First of all, Mandy came to us and came to me and asked to be released from the show, and we were able to accommodate that request on his part. And right now, it’s a personal issue. And, you know, I think the show is accommodating his needs. The creative on the show is very strong. The stories, as we know about the audience on Criminal Minds — people come to that show for the E-ticket, you know, that white-knuckle ride that they’re going to get every week. And in the legacy of ER and Law & Order, the show will go on. But right now, it’s personal."
Asked why Patinkin’s statement had said "creative differences," rather than "personal issues," Tassler would only say, "Well, I think ‘creative differences’ is a euphemism for ‘personal issues,’" closing with a wink, whatever that means.
The more things change, the more they change. When CBS presented Moonlight to advertisers in May, the vampire P.I. drama featured Alex O’Loughlin, Shannon Lucio, Rade Serbedzija and Amber Valletta. Since then, David Greenwalt (Angel) has taken over the show and three of the four leads are gone. So what happened there?
"One of the things about the pilot process is you have a gun to your head during the entire pilot season," Tassler says. "Time is a pressure. You’ve got auditions. You’ve got… you’re really under the gun in terms of making the best choices you can within a limited period of time. What we had with Moonlight was a great opportunity with Joel Silver, with Rod Holcomb, with Ron Koslow. We had a great concept, and we made the best choices relative to the time… [A]nd don’t forget, it was a presentation. And with a presentation, you get a chance to sort of get a glimpse at what the series might be. So when we picked up the show to go to series, we’re able to make some adjustments, able to make some changes to improve the show. Not that we didn’t like it to begin with, but it just — we saw an opportunity to better some of the choices. But more importantly, your pilot should not necessarily be your best episode. It really is sort of your launching pad into the series. So that’s what happened with Moonlight."
On rumors that Drew Carey is Price Is Right frontrunner: "[T]here’s everybody else in the world, and there’s Bob Barker, so I think you really have to keep that in mind. Hopefully, we’ll make a decision soon. Yes, we are in talks with Drew, it would be stupid of us not to be in talks with Drew. But I really don’t want to comment any further about the other choices, because I don’t want to — it wouldn’t be fair to the other people involved in the search."