Upfront 07

Swinging and Singing at CBS

At TCA: Entertainment President Nina Tassler Wants Edgier Shows

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PASADENA, Calif. (AdAge.com) -- CBS might look a little different later this year. The network known for its stability and long-running procedural crime dramas (think "CSI") is taking some chances on a few unusual pilots aimed at getting people talking about the network.
Nina Tassler said the network is 'throwing out the rule book and trying new kinds of storytelling.'
Nina Tassler said the network is 'throwing out the rule book and trying new kinds of storytelling.' Credit: Cliff Lipson

CBS is looking at adding some edgier fare to its schedule, Entertainment President Nina Tassler said at the Television Critics Association meeting here today.

'New kinds of storytelling'
"We are talking about throwing out the rule book and trying new kinds of storytelling," said Ms. Tassler, mentioning both a musical and pilot about open marriage, among other projects. "We're experimenting with a wide range of shows from comedic to dramatic."

"Swing Town," from executive producer Mike Kelley and director Alan Poul, whose credits include HBO's "Rome" and "Six Feet Under," is set in a cul-de-sac in Chicago and follows three married couples with different views on the subject of open marriage.

"When you look at [Ang Lee's film of the Rick Moody novel "The Ice Storm"] there were a lot of issues on the table in that time period," Ms. Tassler said. "The growth of the women's movement in the mid-'70s and the emergence of a strong female character able to distinguish herself within a marriage -- there's a lot of humor and irony subject matter."

Hugh Jackman's musical
Another project, "Viva Laughlin!" is a musical about a small casino town in Nevada. The show is based on the BBC show "Viva Blackpool!" and CBS has ordered a pilot, making it the first network TV production from actor Hugh Jackman, who will help adapt and appear in the show.

Other projects coming down the pike include something a little more on brand for CBS. "Skip Tracers" stars Steven Dorff about a man who finds missing people in Los Angeles. It is written by the "Sopranos" writing team of Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green.

For the rest of the current season, CBS's only new addition will be the David Spade comedy "Rules of Engagement." The network will also welcome back "Jericho," which was on hiatus to give producers the chance to produce more episodes. "Jericho" is the No. 1 online show for CBS, which built a major web component to keep viewers interested during the break.

YouTube views
CBS's deal with Google's YouTube is also luring viewers to watch CBS clips 1 million times a day online, she said.

For summer, Ms. Tassler said only "Big Brother" was certain to come back. Mark Burnett's "Rock Star" is still under consideration for another summer run. Ms. Tassler declined to take questions regarding CBS News, referring critics to CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus, who will show up later today.
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