In a surprise move, CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler on Tuesday announced that she would be stepping down from her post at the network at the end of the year, in order to pursue "other creative interests."
An 18-year CBS veteran, Ms. Tassler joined the network as a development executive. The linchpin of CBS' creative efforts, she developed such hits and moneymakers as "NCIS," The Big Bang Theory," "How I Met Your Mother," "Blue Bloods," "The Good Wife," "Mom" and "Scorpion." More recently, Ms. Tassler launched the successor to David Letterman's iconic late-night series in "The Late Show with Steven Colbert."
A 1979 graduate of Boston University's College of Fine Arts, Ms. Tassler is said to be looking to apply her talents to theatrical productions and publishing ventures.
In a characteristically smooth CBS transition, Ms. Tassler's No. 2, VP-current programming Glenn Geller, will assume her day-to-day oversight of programming effective immediately.
"CBS is a special place," Ms. Tassler said in a company statement. "For the past 18 years, I've been blessed to be part of an amazing team that has lifted this network to an enviable run of success. It all starts at the top with [CBS Corp. CEO] Leslie [Moonves], my boss, mentor and friend for two and a half decades, and a leader who inspires excellence in every part of the creative and business process. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Leslie, my colleagues at CBS and all the actors, producers and writers who were part of this incredible journey."
Ms. Tassler went on to add that, as much as she loves working with the CBS family, "it is time for my next chapter, and I'm thrilled that I can pursue my other creative interests while still being part of the company."
Ms. Tassler will remain linked to CBS in an advisory capacity through at least 2017, which is when her current deal with the network expires. She re-upped with CBS only a year ago.
Mr. Moonves was unstinting in his praise of his outgoing programming chief, and he hinted that her departure was perhaps inevitable. "Nina and I have been colleagues and friends for 25 years. It is one of the proudest partnerships of my professional life," Mr. Moonves said in the statement. "We've enjoyed amazing success together, both here and at Warner Bros., and it's been a privilege to watch her talents and accomplishments grow. Nina is a creative executive with the instincts of an artist, so it came as no surprise that she would eventually want to express those talents beyond television. All of us here are grateful and proud of CBS's success with Nina leading our entertainment programming, and we will be the biggest fans for all her future endeavors."
The CBS boss added that Mr. Geller was the obvious choice to succeed Ms. Tassler: "Glenn Geller is an accomplished programming executive who has been a major part of CBS's success since 2001. Glenn brings outstanding skills to all parts of the creative and production process, and … he is very ready to assume this larger role."
Ms. Tassler's announcement comes less than a week before the start of the 2015-16 broadcast season.