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TCA 2019: CBS Takes 'A Couple More Steps' in Prime Diversity

Beverly Hills, Calif. — Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president, and Thom Sherman, senior executive VP, programming, took the stage for the CBS executive session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Thursday. Kahl mentioned a “great reaction to our new slate of shows from the ad community,” and talked up CBS’ strides in late night. In Stephen Colbert and James Corden, Kahl said the network has “two of the most dynamic and entertaining voices in late night.”

Kahl and Sherman said the network has taken big strides toward having more diversity on its air, something CBS had been vehemently criticized for it in the past. “Last year was a good first step,” said Kahl. “This year we take a couple more steps forward.”

Kahl acknowledged that CBS “still has a lot of work to do, but we’re confident we’re on the right path.”

Related: CBS Orders Season Two of ‘Love Island’

CBS’ upcoming shows include comedies The Unicorn, Bob Hearts Abishola and Carol’s Second Act, and dramas Evil and All Rise. Sherman said the new shows are “actually about something.”

Sherman said he and Kahl were “blown away” at a table read for Bob Hearts Abishola, a Chuck Lorre comedy. “It’s incredibly funny,” he added.

Sherman mentioned a series commitment for The Lincoln Lawyer from David E. Kelley, adapted from a Michael Connelly novel, and a single cam comedy from Kaley Cuoco called Pretty. Sherman noted “the biggest audiences” of broadcast TV.

CBS also ordered a second season of Love Island. Kahl mentioned its strong social component, and the fact that Love Island draws people to CBS who may not normally watch the network.

CBS has not decided on the future of The World’s Best.

Kahl said broadcast remains an attractive partner for elite producers. “I think there’s an excitement to what we offer to being on once a week,” he said. 

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.