TCA: In Peak TV Era, Geller Touts Broad-Audience Appeal of CBS

Complete Coverage: TCA Winter Press Tour

In his first TCA press tour presentation, Glenn Geller, CBS entertainment president, said CBS remains eminently poised for success despite the glut of scripted programming around the TV landscape. The critics and awards judges may love the stuff on cable and streaming, but broadcast—and CBS in particular, said Geller—brings in the eyeballs.

Geller cited the study from FX Networks that counted 409 scripted shows on the air. "Without a doubt it's a daunting number," said Geller. But with CBS holding the No. 1 and 2 spots, six of the top 10, and an outsize number in the top 50, "That leaves 359 [scripted shows] somewhere way over there."

Geller voiced his support for Supergirl, which he says very much fits the CBS brand. "In essence it's the good guys putting the bad guys away," he said. "I think the show's doing very well."

Geller, a reality TV fan, voiced excitement for his first acquisition as entertainment president, the British concept Hunted, in which seasoned bounty hunters track down unseasoned contestants on the run. The show takes “the procedural element into the reality space,” he said. “It literally feels tailor-made for CBS."

There’s no air date yet for the show.

Asked about Stephen Colbert’s ratings in late night, and a downward skew among conservative voters, Geller endorsed the Late Show host. “We want Stephen to be Stephen and that’s exactly what he’s doing,” said Geller. “He’s clearly the preeminent interviewer in late night.”

Colbert and James Corden, host of The Late Late Show, will get new viewers from a post-Super Bowl perch.

Geller confirmed that Mike & Molly’s current run is its last. “These decisions are really challenging,” said Geller, choosing his words carefully and saluting exec producers Chuck Lorre and Al Higgins.

Person of Interest, he said, has a 13-episode order that CBS hopes to air this spring.

Geller was asked about the network’s diversity efforts, and cited himself, a self-proclaimed “gay guy from Indiana who doesn’t play basketball.”

“I talk about my husband,” he said. “I want to normalize my diversity. CBS will always reflect what America looks like.”

In terms of The Good Wife, he confirmed that co-creators Robert and Michelle King will not return after this year, but stressed that there’s a “deep bench” in terms of series leadership.

Geller trained under former entertainment president Nina Tassler, and said he’s not looking to change the process of bringing shows to air, but does seek to announce pickups sooner.

On the new shows side, Geller said Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders was a go from the first moments of Erica Messer’s pitch meeting, and said Rush Hour has “big, broad comedic appeal,” and will benefit from March Madness basketball lead-ins.

Geller got some laughs when asked how his competitive counterparts around town have welcomed him to the new role. “They all share their programming strategies,” he said, citing “a sleepover at Dana [Walden] and Gary [Newman’s] house.”

Michael Malone

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.