New CBS Entertainment Chief Vows to Boost Reality and Diversity on Network

Glenn Geller CBS
Courtesy of CBS

Glenn Geller introduced himself himself to the Television Critics Association on Tuesday with a memorable description of his background: “I’m just a gay guy from Indiana who doesn’t play basketball.”

Geller had a smooth outing in his first major media appearance since his appointment in September as CBS Entertainment president. He told the TCA crowd at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. that he was a big fan of reality TV and hoped to bring more unscripted fare to CBS’ air. He easily fielded questions about the fate of various CBS shows, from the end of “Mike & Molly” and possible end of “Person of Interest” and “The Good Wife” to expressing his enthusiasm for shows including “Supergirl” and “Madam Secretary.”

Geller made a point of mentioning his husband early on in his opening remarks, and he delivered his “gay guy from Indiana” laugh line with confidence. When pressed about the relative lack of diversity in CBS’ shows compared to its Big Four rivals, Glenn cited his status in representing the LGBTQ community as evidence that he is aware of the importance of viewers seeing the depth and breadth of America’s melting pot in primetime.

Geller said of his husband, “I talk about him publicly because I want to normalize my diversity.” And he added: “CBS will always reflect what America looks like.” But he acknowledged that the network needed to make more strides on both sides of the camera. He cited midseason dramas “Rush Hour” and “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” both of which were showcased at TCA, as examples of CBS’ efforts to increase diversity in its casts.

“We’re not casting color blind; we’re casting color-conscious — the right roles for diversity,” he said. “That’s the kind of shows we’re putting on the air.”

On the reality front, Geller told the crowd that “Survivor” and “Big Brother” are “appointment television” for him. He noted that the first project he bought after his promotion to programming chief was the reality series “Hunted,” which he described as a blend of procedural elements with a classic reality-elimination contest. It’s based on a U.K. format that sends teams of two out into the country in an effort to avoid capture by “professional law enforcement” hunters.

“It brings the procedural element into the reality space — it literally feels tailor-made for CBS,” he said.

Geller opened the session by reeling off a list of CBS’ viewership stats, staring with the fact that in a world of 409 original series, CBS is home to six of the top 10 most-watched, led by “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS.” He made special mention of the Tom Selleck Friday drama “Blue Bloods,” which isn’t a noisy show but with 14 million viewers a week it has a larger audience than most scripted series on other networks, he asserted. “I think 14 million viewers is pretty damn sexy,” he said.

Among other topics Geller touched on during the 30-minute Q&A:

  • Stephen Colbert: CBS is happy with the new “Late Show” host’s performance since taking over the 11:35 p.m. slot in September. He’s not concerned about criticism that the show is too intellectual or leans toward a liberal audience. “I think the show is fantastic,” he said. “We want Stephen to be Stephen.”
  • “Supergirl”: Geller addressed head-on the question of whether the show is an odd fit with CBS’ audience profile. “It’s in essence a good-guys-putting-bad-guys-away show. She happens to be a superhero and she wears a cape.”
  • “Person of Interest”: Geller was noncommittal on whether the drama series would be ending after its upcoming fifth season of 13 episodes, which are expected to air in the spring. “It could function as both a series and a season finale,” Geller said of the fifth-season storyline.
  • Rival network execs: Geller got off a good ad-lib involving Fox TV Group chiefs Dana Walden and Gary Newman when asked what kind of welcoming he’s had in his new job from execs at other nets. “They all shared their programming strategy … at a sleepover at Dana and Gary’s house,” he joked.

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  1. Riff says:

    And CBS, when considering executives for Glenn’s replacement, will be open to any religion, except of course only Jewish. The entertainment president will not be goyim.

    For the first time in my life, I actually feel a little sorry for Littleton. Her gal pal gets unceremoniously fired, replaced with something that came from the fire pits of hell — and she has to write about it. And now, thanks to this article, the entire world knows the only reason why she got fired. And the only reason why this deviant clown got her job.

    Good luck, CBS, with your anti-white, anti-Irish Nancy Drew (Nan’Shaniqua Drew’quasha? What, pray tell, will her first mystery be? “Da Case o’ Who Don’ Stole Dem Phat Air Jordans?”). We can’t live without you? Oh, really? Watch us. Judging by the results from your recent infestation of “diverseness”, the Nielsens are attesting to the fact that more and more are living without you just fine.

  2. No Faith in CBS! NONE !!!! says:

    Diversity.

    Sure, Jan.

    Never should have let Nolan and Plageman get rid of Taraji P. Henson, on Person of Interest.

    Who wants to believe CBS is smart?

  3. Glenn Geller shouldn’t last very long at CBS (hopefully)! He’s cancelled (one-of-the) the best written & most entertaining show CBS has had for a while. “Moms” (I.e. “Bitches Breed”) and “Two Broke Girls” (I.e. “Couple of Poor Sluts”) are the most pathetic attempts at Comedy, by using redundant paraphrases; only Whores and Sluts would repeat. Obviously, “Geller” doesn’t watch his (own) Network. Other than Football ; CBS now has nothing; good to watch. I’m done with CBS and any Sponsors’ products that advertise during those time slots. Your programs are geared for the Beavis & Butthead crowd. Adios “Losers”!

    • cathy says:

      You are 100% right give it to him he he gets rid of all the good shows and gives us this other crap to watch I hope he goes

  4. Bj DeBolt says:

    You ass Mike and Molly is awesome. It was a program that was funny ,wonderful, Please do cancel. Just like me their are a lot of people who love Mike and Molly , What are you going to replace it with some kind of trash..

  5. Rebecca Hernandez says:

    I was very disappointed to hear about the cancellation of “Mike and Molly”. I have been watching it from its inception. So many “good” night time shows are gone and I’m getting pretty discouraged about where’s all of this leading to.

  6. David says:

    As for diversity, that should come without saying. But when it becomes formulaic or forced, it really defeats the purpose…like Big Brother the past few seasons having only younger pretty people. I’d rather see the best actors hired for the jobs, regardless of the color of their skin.

  7. David says:

    The last thing that network TV needs is more reality TV. I’d rather see more quality scripted dramas and comedies. Something original. How about a concert series? Or live plays? People turn to cable because we keep getting the same old tired crap from the networks. Network executives need to think outside the box. And it doesn’t sound like this one is doing so.

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