CBS’ Nina Tassler Talks ‘Big Bang’ Contracts, ‘Good Wife’ Snub and Latenight

Though the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” is still negotiating their contracts for the new season, “We’re feeling very confident that these deals will be able to be worked out,” chairman of CBS Entertainment Nina Tassler told reporters Thursday at the annual Television Critics Assn. press tour. “I just love being able to answer the questions year after year.”

Tassler also addressed plans for the upcoming latenight transition, with Stephen Colbert set to inherit David Letterman’s 11:30 p.m. slot. “We’re having preliminary conversations with Stephen, very early conversations about format,” said Tassler. “We know he’s retiring his character on Comedy Central. He does want to have an interview format. As to dates, we’re in the middle of those conversations right now.”

As for the 12:30 p.m. slot, Tassler said they’re still evaluating formats and hinted that the show may not be in the standard latenight talker mold. “We’re looking at it through a very different lens,” she said. “There is a knee-jerk reaction to go for a traditional behind the desk format, but we’re looking at the comic world, maybe the political world. We’re keeping an open mind. We’re doing our homework. We want to make the right decision.”

Tassler faced several questions about the lack of diversity in casting on the net’s fall schedule, but she pointed to the entirety of their programming. “You look at the length and breadth of the network, from sun up to sun down,” she said, pointing to “The Talk” as one of the most diverse shows on TV, and their drama leads Halle Berry, Lucy Liu and Maggie Q. “These are formidable characters in lead roles. But season to season, we don’t come out of pilot season or the launch of any show to say we’re good. We don’t look at fall as the defining mark as giving us a quota.”

Tassler also addressed “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan’s role in “Battle Creek,” which is slated for mid-season. Earlier in the tour, Gilligan had downplayed his role, given his involvement in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” calling himself “more of a spectator.” Tassler emphasized that David Shore is the showrunner and primary steward of “Battle Creek,” based on a script that Gilligan wrote 14 years ago, well before “Breaking Bad.”

“Vince wrote the show and developed the show. Whatever way, shape or form he wants to be involved, we’re happy with,” she said.

Tassler also acknowledged her disappointment with “The Good Wife’s” shut-out of the Best Drama category in the Emmy nominations. “I admit it, I’m still really pissed,” she said. Pressed on whether the categories need to re-evaluated, she said, “You look at what ‘The Good Wife’ does every year. We have 22 episodes. It’s so much more demanding, so much more difficult. Right now, everybody’s playing in the same sandbox… It’s something that should be looked at.”

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