CBS chief Leslie Moonves appeared before TV critics Monday.
(Photo: John Paul Filo, CBS)
(USA TODAY) CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves did some pinch-hitting for the network's programming chief Nina Tassler at the TV Critics' press tour Monday, returning to the Q&A after an absence of several years to parry questions about a dispute with Time Warner Cable, the exit of NCIS' Cote de Pablo and the success of Under the Dome, which has just been renewed for a second season.
-- Dome will return next summer, with a season premiere written by Stephen King, whose novel is the basis for the series, this summer's top hit. Moonves says a deal with Amazon, which offers the show four days after it airs, was a first for CBS, and may pave the way for future deals, which makes an expensive summer series economically viable.
-- On racial epithets hurled by contestants on Big Brother, hosted by his wife Julie Chen: "I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling, personally. It's unfortunately reflective of what some people feel. A lot of us makes it uncomfortable. I watch every episode of the show; my wife would kill me if I didn't." Why didn't CBS address the comments, shown online, sooner on the TV show? " We did not comment on some of the racial things being said until it affected what was going on in the household."
MORE: Full coverage from TCA Summer Press Tour
-- On Cote de Pablo's exit from TV's top series NCIS after eight seasons, which some online conspiracy theorists viewed as involuntary: "We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money and then we offered her more money. We really didn't want to lose her. We love her. Ultimately, she decided she didn't want to do the show." She plays Ziva David on the show and will return briefly this fall as her character is written out.
-- On the looming threat of a dispute with Time Warner, which could pull CBS signals in 3 million homes and of Showtime in 12 million by 5 pm (ET) Monday: "We really don't want to negotiate in public; conversations are going on, (but) it feels like we should be paid for our programming. I hope we don't go dark."
-- On his stable (but lower-rated) late-night Iineup amid changes in time slots and hosts at rivals, as NBC prepares (again) to kick top-rated Jay Leno to the curb: "We consider David Letterman the best guy in late night. Other than Johnny Carson, he's probably the best there ever was. Despite what people think, we don't like drama at 11:30."
-- On cable envy, though he runs Showtime, whose Homeland was last year's Emmy winner for best drama: Networks are "competing against some phenomenal programs. It's hard to put The Good Wife against Game of Thrones, (which) probably costs three times as much." The competition from original cable series now is "pretty extreme. Cable shows get a lot more attention with a lot fewer numbers."
Gary Levin, USA TODAY