CBS President: Network Adding More Gay Characters to Its Shows
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
CBS will introduce more gay characters on its scripted programs in response to recently receiving a failing grade from GLAAD, CBS President Nina Tassler said Wednesday.
"I'm very disappointed in our track record so far," Tassler said at the Telvision Critics Association fall previews. "We know and we will do better."
MTV, CW tops GLAAD's gay-friendly programming survey; CBS fails again
Tassler said The Good Wife will introduce the gay brother of Julianna Margulies' Alicia in the new season. She also added that there would be a recurring gay character on S#*! My Dad Says and that Jeff and Audrey (Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price) will choose a lesbian surrogate on Rules of Engagement.
"Once you come out of your pilot development season disappointed with yourself, you go into the current series season and look for every opportunity we can to improve the numbers we have represented in the cast," Tassler said. "We're going to do that, and we'll continue to focus on that as we go into development season. We're not happy with ourselves."
"It is encouraging that CBS shares our disappointment in the network's lack of gay and transgender representation and we are hopeful that the new characters will help build awareness and understanding of our community among viewers," GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said in a statement. "After two years of receiving a 'failing' grade and a commitment last year to be more inclusive, we hope that CBS President Nina Tassler makes true on this promise to bring the network more in line with the industry standard.'"
Check out photos of the Good Wife cast
As for Good Wife's Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), who has been very private about her perceived bisexuality, Tassler said the show will keep viewers guessing. "As long as people keep talking about it, we don't want to spill the beans just yet," she said.
Other highlights from Tassler's executive session:
• Despite the network's success, Tassler said "we're restless and motivated and, as I like to say, paranoid" heading into the new season.
• Tassler applauded her network for a diverse development season. In addition to S#*! My Dad Says coming from a Twitter feed, Tassler said The Defenders was originally pitched as a reality show about two Vegas attorneys. The network decided to develop it as a scripted drama instead.
• Answering criticism about Hawaii Five-0's grittier look and feel, Tassler insisted that the show will feel more like the original as the series progresses. "You have to look at the audience that is going to remember the original show," she said. "You want to be respectful. ... It's still a small island. Everybody there knows each other — good guys, bad guys. Those story engines are still very much there."
• On adding network CEO Leslie Moonves' wife, The Early Show and Big Brother host Julie Chen, as a co-host of the network's new daytime talk show: "We talked about people with profile, and Julie has a terrific reputation," Tassler said. "The bottom line is the executive producer of the show, Sara Gilbert, said, 'What about Julie, would she be interested?'"
• Tassler said she's not worried about David Letterman leaving the network once his contract is up. "As long as Dave is happy, we're very happy to have him there," she said.