LOS ANGELES — One great thing about having a competitor implode just before you take the stage at the TV Critics' Tour: It can take the pressure way off your own performance.
So CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler had a relatively easy time facing critics Wednesday morning, the day after ABC announced the resignation of its entertainment president, Stephen McPherson.
"As far as (McPherson's resignation) goes, I said, 'Damn, he got out of doing press tour,' " cracked Tassler, sidestepping any deeper speculation about what his loss might mean for CBS or the competition among all the networks. Later, she said she'd be happy to buy a show from McPherson if he ever turned to developing new shows, as TV executives often do after a big fall.
Instead, Tassler was free to tout the different ways they wound up with new shows — Jim Belushi's The Defenders started as a reality show pitched to Fox and (Bleep) My Dad Says began as a Twitter tweet. She also called CBS' revival of classic cop show Hawaii Five-O a risk, despite the long-standing value of its name.
• After announcing the next four companies to participate in its Undercover Boss reality series, Tassler confirmed that participating companies do not pay to be featured on the show.
• They don't expect to have problems with the production of Two and Half Men from Charlie Sheen's legal troubles.
• In the wake of getting a failing grade from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, at least two CBS series will be getting gay characters: The Good Wife's Alicia Florio will have a gay brother, while the couple at the center of Rules of Engagement will use a lesbian friend as a surrogate.
• And the new View-style daytime show featuring five mothers will be called The Talk. When I asked about the propriety of including Julie Chen, who is the wife of CBS CEO Les Moonves and now will appear in three different shows on the network, Tassler said executive producer Sara Gilbert asked for her.
Of course, I noted, if I was an executive producer who wanted to get my show on the network, including the CEO's wife in the cast might be something I'd suggest.
"It really did test the best of all the pilots we had," Tassler said later. "Besides, (Chen) has her own career. Why should she be penalized for being the CEO's wife?"
Much as I respect Tassler, that seems Hollywood logic at its finest.