Influencers 2010

Influencer: Nina Tassler, CBS

It May Not Be the Sexiest Net, but It's the Sturdiest Thanks to a Strong Schedule Under This Executive's Watchful Eye

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LOS ANGELES ( -- At first blush, a top executive at CBS -- a network with a prime-time median viewer age of 54.9 -- might not seem likely to make an influencer list.

Nina Tassler, entertainment president, CBS
Nina Tassler, entertainment president, CBS
But CBS is also the network with the top five highest-rated shows this season; home of "Hawaii Five-O," the highest-rated new program of the season; and has the most stability among the networks. Under Entertainment President Nina Tassler, the Eye network has made fewer changes to its sturdy schedule than its competitors in recent years and launched (and sustained) more hits.

How'd Ms. Tassler pull it off? By adhering closely to the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix it rule. The network's biggest hits in recent years have been spinoffs of procedurals ("NCIS: LA" was the biggest breakout of the fall 2009 season) and star vehicles for the boomer circuit (Tom Selleck's "Blue Bloods" has become a surprise Friday-night smash.) But that doesn't mean she hasn't taken a few risks shifting that schedule, moving comedy "The Big Bang Theory" to Thursday nights to establish a comedy lineup competitive with NBC's paid big dividends, as did moving "Survivor" back to Wednesdays.

Ms. Tassler can't resist a pun when summing up her successes. "We've been 'eye-ing' Thursday for a while, just waiting to have the big guns (or Big Bang) to do it," she told Ad Age.

And even as CBS hits cruise control on a few more series this year, Ms. Tassler continues to find new sources of inspiration from family stories and hobbies such as travel, movies and her passion for theater.

But her biggest triumph, perhaps, is her role in making CBS an appealing workplace, influencing the big talents to want to go there.

"I believe that executives want to work here and writers want to develop here. We encourage creators to ask around about CBS, the creative experience. [And it's] all positive. We cannot guarantee a writer success but we can promise they will be given every opportunity to succeed."

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