Network topper talks about Silverman at TCA

CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler couldn’t resist getting in one more jibe at departing rival Ben Silverman.

Asked Monday whether she had any thoughts on NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Silverman’s upcoming exit, Tassler told reporters, “I’m really just a d-girl, so I wouldn’t comment on that.”

Tassler was alluding to a statement Silverman once made to Esquire magazine in which he referred to rival network entertainment presidents (including Fox’s Kevin Reilly, ABC’s Steve McPherson and Tassler) as “d-girls” — a derogatory term for low-level development execs.

Later, Tassler quipped that Silverman “loves to entertain,” referring to some of the exec’s out-of-office antics. But at the same time, she added that her door is open to Silverman’s new joint venture with Barry Diller — and she’d be more than willing to buy projects from Silverman (whose producing track record is strong) “if they’re good.”

Opening the Eye’s portion of the TV Critics Assn. press tour, Tassler also took aim at NBC’s upcoming 10 p.m. “The Jay Leno Show” strip.

“Whatever the numbers, the ratings, they get, they’re going to declare victory anyway, so it doesn’t really matter,” Tassler said.

Tassler later added that she believes there won’t be an immediate read on Leno’s performance either way.

“You’ll have to look at how the demo gap is narrowing (at 10 p.m.)” before declaring the Leno experiment a success or failure, she said.

“Ten p.m. is a great business, and it’s only going to boost (David Letterman) as well,” she said.

Speaking of the latenight talker wars, Tassler said she thought NBC’s press release declaring Conan O’Brien the “new king of latenight” after one week of ratings “seemed premature.”

“We have our course of action, our plan,” she said. “We see this as a great opportunity. We’ll continue to follow that course … (Letterman) is at the top of his game. He’s very excited.”

As for CBS’ primetime performance, Tassler said she believed the Eye’s continued solid ratings mean that critics, reporters and Hollywood tend “to take that for granted.”

Comedies like “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory” have strong critical support, she noted. And new shows like “The Good Wife” reflect “an evolving trend in development” to balance procedural elements with serialized elements.

Of all CBS series, however, Tassler said she believed “NCIS” was “the most underrated success story on TV.”

With “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” back to back on Tuesday nights, Tassler said the net also has a lineup that is “ ’Idol’-proof.” “American Idol,” she said, “comes and goes, and ‘NCIS’ pretty much holds its place.”

Asked about the impending changes to this year’s Primetime Emmycast, which CBS is airing, Tassler said the move was necessary.

“I think coming out of the telecast last year, everybody in this business knew we had to make a change,” she said. “This is about creating and producing an exciting and entertaining program. If the ratings are up, more people will be watching the new shows.”

Answering complaints that the categories set to be handed out before the telecast will now be marginalized, Tassler said changes would be implemented “in a very respectful way. It will have very little impact, or no impact, on the integrity of the programming.”

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