CBS Gets a New Entertainment Boss, as Longtime Exec Nina Tassler Prepares to Depart

Michael Schneider
Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment, Glenn Geller, Executive Vice President, Current Programming for the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group.
Cliff Lipson/CBS, Sonja Flemming/CBS

CBS is making a major change at the top.

Nina Tassler, who has run CBS Entertainment for more than a decade, is exiting the network. She’ll be replaced by Glenn Geller, who has been named CBS Entertainment president effective today.

Tassler will help with the transition and continue as CBS Entertainment chairman through the end of the year, and then serve as a company advisor through 2017.

Tassler first joined CBS in August 1997 and was named president of entertainment in 2004, then promoted to chairman in 2014. CBS remained a solid No. 1 in total viewers for the majority of her tenure.

CBS Corporation president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who announced the transition today, called their working relationship “one of the proudest partnerships of my professional life… It’s been a privilege to watch her talents and accomplishments grow. Nina is a creative executive with the instincts of an artist.”

Geller moves to the top job from his post as head of current programming at both CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Studios. It’s an untraditional leap, as most network entertainment heads rise in the ranks from the series development side.

But TV “current” executives are often seen as the unsung heroes inside the networks. While development departments have the flashy jobs of discovering new talent and helping create potentially new hits, it’s up to current execs to keep track of shows currently on the air–and make sure they remain strong.

Moonves is clearly a fan of the kind of executive who rises through the current programming ranks: CBS Television Studios president David Stapf previously ran CBS’ current programming department before taking the top studio job in 2004.

As the new president of CBS Entertainment, Geller will oversee entertainment programming for primetime, daytime and late night, and also oversee development in comedy, drama, reality, specials and longform programming.

Geller first joined CBS in 2001 and has been executive vice president of current programming for the network and studio since 2013. That means he has overseen the continued performance of the NCIS shows, as well as The Good Wife, The CW’s Jane the Virgin and last year’s freshman entries Scorpion, Madam Secretary and CSI: Cyber.

 “Glenn brings outstanding skills to all parts of the creative and production process,” Moonves says. “He’s worked under the best with Nina and David Stapf and is very ready to assume this larger role.”

As for Tassler, her lengthy relationship with Moonves began at Warner Bros. TV, where she helped develop shows like ER. After Moonves moved to CBS, he eventually brought her over, and she oversaw a crop of hits including The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, How I Met Your Mother, Elementary, Undercover Boss and more. She also developed both NCIS and CSI franchises. She also made CBS a major summer scripted player, with the launches of Under the Dome, Extant and Zoo. Most recently, the network’s late night transition, including the launch of The Late Late Show with James Corden and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, happened under her watch.

“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,” she says. “I will always love this place, yet it is time for my next chapter. I pass the baton to Glenn with great confidence and pride.”

Tassler had been the longest-running entertainment chief at a broadcast network (a title that now falls to ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee).

Geller takes over as CBS faces a bit of a transition in primetime. The CSI mothership departs after one final send-off movie, and on the comedy side, the network is looking to create a new generation of hits under new comedy development head Julie Pernworth, who took over this summer after the departure of another CBS veteran, Wendi Trilling. Heading into fall, CBS is tracking high awareness and intent to view for its new drama Supergirl, which premieres on Monday nights in late October.