For a man who works below the line, Michael Klausman has a high-visibility job as head of the CBS Studio Center: Anyone looking to book the studio, which has been the location for shows from “The Wild Wild West” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to more recently “Big Brother” and “Entertainment Tonight,” must go through him. Non-CBS productions also shoot at the location, and Klausman is responsible for the studio’s marketing and operations, including oversight of contract negotiations with all production companies who use the facilities.
Klausman, now 62, began at CBS in 1971 as a page, to support himself through college. (His page jacket is framed in the Television City office.) He was a good student in college, and wanted to be a doctor, but couldn’t land a spot in med school. Still, he says his left-brain tendencies have come in handy. “Because of my science/math background, I’m real organized, almost anal,” he says. “I just put square pegs in square holes, and there was a need for that.”
The Northridge Earthquake in 1994 devastated the industry, and Klausman remembers it as one of the few times he found himself panicked. “That was a scary time at the studio,” he recalls. “We had millions of dollars’ worth of damage, and yet the team pulled together.” Klausman credits the efforts of many for getting operations back up and running after only six weeks — a shorter time than others.
Klausman says he loves taking on problems and fixing issues around the lot, but keeping up with technology isn’t easy. “The changing technical environment is a challenge,” he says. “You go from standard def to high def to 4k to 8k — it’s (hard) just keeping up.”
Lending a Hand
Klausman enjoys charity work, and he and his wife, Beckie, have an especially soft spot for kids. The couple has fostered five children over the years (they have five children of their own, too, including a son who works on the CBS lot), and have earned the Guardian Angel Award from foster care advocacy org Child Share. Klausman also has helped the Starlight-Starbright Children’s Foundation, and was recently honored by the music industry’s T.J. Martell Foundation, which funds AIDS and cancer research.