Exec to serve as senior adviser to CEO Moonves

CBS’ Nancy Tellem is stepping away from the trees to get the wide-angle view of the forest.

Tellem, prexy of CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, will segue as of next month to the newly created role of senior adviser to CBS prexy-CEO Leslie Moonves. Tellem has been Moonves’ top lieutenant for more than 20 years, first at Lorimar/Warner Bros. TV and since 1997 at the Eye.

About six months ago, Tellem began talking to Moonves about creating a role for herself at the Eye that would allow her more time to focus on big-picture business development and strategy issues rather than the day to day management of the entertainment side of CBS and the CBS TV Studio operation.

In this role, which remains a full-time gig, Tellem will focus on content development, new production business models and new media. She’ll also continue to oversee CBS’ 50% interest in the CW Network. Nina Tassler will remain at the head of CBS Entertainment wing, as will David Stapf at CBS TV Studios and Debby Barak as exec veep of business affairs for the entertainment group. Tellem’s role as entertainment group prexy will not be replaced.

She has been looking for a new challenge and is very passionate about this transformative time in our business,” Moonves said in announcing the shift Thursday. “Nancy has great experience, business acumen and intellect in all of these evolving areas.”

Tellem told Daily Variety she felt the time was right for the move because the Eye’s network and TV studio operations are performing very solidly and the exec trio of Tassler, Stapf and Barak are capable of taking on more authority. At the same time, the opportunities and challenges facing CBS’ core businesses of programming and production are mounting as the business landscape continues to undergo dramatic changes, Tellem said.

I felt like the business really started changing last year, when everything was accelerated by the economic conditions,” she said. “I’m grateful to Leslie for allowing me to craft something that is exciting for me and allows my unbelievably talented team the opportunity to take on more.”

Tellem said she’s been keeping “a little bucket list” of areas that she’s wanted to dig into for a long time. “I’m looking at the places where we’re facing challenges, and right now every aspect of the TV business is changing at an extremely rapid pace.”

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