Don’t tell Wendi Trilling there’s a comedy drought in primetime.
CBS’ top comedy programming exec has groomed the next generation of Eye laffer comedy hits during the past few seasons. The net was buoyed last season by impressive viewership gains (and Emmy buzz) for “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother.” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Rules of Engagement” are also solid players for CBS.
And then there’s “Two and a Half Men,” which logged its fourth consecutive season as primetime’s most-watched comedy.
Trilling, exec VP of comedy development, has been at the Eye long enough to remember when the network wasn’t so flush with hot sitcoms. She’s learned over the years that while all hits are different in their own way, the constant is that “every piece of the puzzle has to work” — from creators to cast to timeslot to cultural zeitgeist.
That’s a tricky business, for sure, but Trilling credits CBS’ willingness to stick with talent that it believes in as an important component in its success. Case in point: the initial pilot for “Big Bang Theory” was scrapped and redone because the ensemble cast didn’t quite click.
Trilling began her career as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She moved to L.A. to work in advertising but wound up taking a life-changing meeting one day with the CBS programming exec who would become her mentor, Tim Flack.
“He told me to find something I loved doing,” Trilling says. She took his advice. “I can’t be anything but proud of the shows we have on the air.”