CBS Boss Looks to the Future with Ashton Kutcher and Ted Danson
Ashton Kutcher and Ted Danson
CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler is so over Charlie Sheen.
Taking questions from reporters during the CBS' fall TV preview Wednesday, Tassler dodged questions about Sheen and his very public meltdown by emphasizing her excitement about the addition of Ashton Kutcher to Two and a Half Men.
Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer strip down for Two and a Half Men poster
"Oh, where do I begin?" Tassler said when asked what she learned form the Sheen situation. "What we learned is that we have an extraordinary cast. ... We have extraordinary writers, extraordinary actors and there is great value in hiring an actor like Ashton Kutcher. He is an extraordinarily professional, talented, gifted actor who comes with a tremendous amount of commitment and enthusiasm. ... [We] have an opportunity moving forward to create an exciting new character and deliver a great show."
Tassler also revealed the first details about Kutcher's character. He will play Walden Schmidt, an "Internet billionaire with a broken heart," Tassler said. Although Tassler was hesitant to say whether Walden is somehow related to Jon Cryer's character — "the mystery is in the marketing," she said — she did add that his character will be introduced in the two-part season premiere.
Tassler would also not confirm or deny recent reports that Sheen's character, Charlie Harper, would be killed off in the season premiere. But she said the show would still push boundaries. "The show will be as irreverent as it has always been," Tassler said. "Our programming practices people are already on high alert."
Ted Danson hired as new star of CSI
Tassler was also high on another big star joining the network this season: CSI's Ted Danson. She said the network considered a number of actors, but Danson "seemed like the right choice. He's a huge TV star, he's got a tremendous amount of charisma, and is really what we wanted on the show right now. When his name came up, we jumped at him."
When asked if she was concerned about adding an older actor to an already aging series, Tassler was frank: "We went for the best actor," Tassler said.
Other highlights from Tassler executive session:
CBS is interested in programming Saturday nights again. In the fall, CBS will kick off its night of repeats with fresh episodes of Rules of Engagement. "We see Saturday night as an opportunity," Tassler said "Advertisers like comedies, it's a terrific show, and we see it as an opportunity for us."
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior "didn't click." Tassler shot down suggestions that Suspect Behavior's cancellation was a reflection of CBS viewers tiring of spin-offs. "I don't think the show] found its rhythm. [Criminal Minds] is a phenomenal show and all the elements work so well. [This] didn't click. ... A spin-off has to be successful on its own."
Criminal Minds has stabilized after a season of cast changes. After the session, Tassler told TVGuide.com that she thinks the show will turn the negatives of last season — losing Paget Brewster and A.J. Cook, only to rehire them — into positives. "We're so happy to have Paget and A.J. back," she said. "In an interesting way, what happened last year revealed certain story points that the writers were challenged by and it revealed some interesting aspects of the other characters' lives." Tassler also noted that she doesn't expect any further cast changes.
Tassler doesn't think Jimmy Kimmel is funny. Tassler's claws came out a bit when asked about Kimmel's recent jabs about the perception that CBS attracts an older audience. "I think they should probably stick to comedy and check their stats a little better," Tassler said. "We have more viewers in the [adults 18-to-49 demographic] than NBC and ABC."