“DVR-Proof” “CSI” Season Sans Petersen; Other CBS Notes

Posted by RabbitEars

This morning at CBS’ executive session at TCA, Nina Tassler, president of entertainment at the network, addressed a few questions about their upcoming season.

Of note regarding C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation, one of the net’s most successful shows, is the departure this season of star William Petersen after the 10th episode. Who’s replacing him?

“You don’t think about replacing Billy,” said Tassler. “[The show’s dynamic] is being informed by a new character — a doctor/scientist.”

The actor playing this new character, who comes into the C.S.I. unit not as the boss, but who will eventually take charge of the group, has not been determined yet (though he will be an “actor of stature,” according to Tassler) but there are intriguing details about the character himself.

“He’s an outsider,” Tassler explained, “with an interesting DNA. In certain medical contexts, they notice that many times serial killers have the same genetic profile [as he does].”

This character is the only one who knows this about himself, and Tassler believes there will be a chance to explore his personal journey of self-discovery as an interesting subtext to the man.

While this character may sound a little like Dexter, Michael C. Hall’s popular antihero on Showtime, part of the CBS family, Tassler doesn’t believe that Dexter informed this new creation, who has not displayed the clinical signs of being a serial killer (he hasn’t set fires or tortured animals, for example).

Regarding the departure of Petersen, Tassler said, “Billy’s an extraordinary guy. He is very committed to the show [artistically]; he’s an executive producer. He’s certainly going to continue to support the show. It was perhaps an artist’s choice to change his life right now.” And while he may be gone as a regular, Tassler told us that his final main episode will “certainly not be the last time we’ll see him.” With a new deal in place for Marg Helgenberger, and the return of Jorja Fox, in addition to this new character, Tassler believes this to be a “DVR-proof” season for the blockbuster series.

Talking about a more recent premiere, Swingtown, which has at least gained somewhat of a cult following, if not the ratings, Tassler said, “I’m very proud of the show. I wish the ratings were better, but right now we’re behind the show.” However, no decision has yet been made on whether new episodes will be produced.

Another cult favorite that is now missing from the CBS schedule is the vampire drama Moonlight. While the fan base was upset with the show’s departure, Tassler believes that “the response to Moonlight was more actor-centric [about star Alex O’Loughlin]. I love vampires, witches, warlocks, all of that, but I don’t question our decision.”

This past season, CBS’ stunt casting of guest stars proved successful, most notably on How I Met Your Mother, which saw Britney Spears and Sarah Chalke (Scrubs) popping in for appearances. While there’s no word on whether Spears will be back, Tassler confirmed that Chalke will be in multiple episodes this season. Over on Criminal Minds, Jason Alexander and Luke Perry will be making guest appearances. And there “probably will be [more stunt casting],” Tassler said. “Actors come to us either directly or through agents and say, ‘I love that show, and I’d love to do a guest spot.'”

CBS was very adored at this tour for being the only broadcast network to provide complete pilots for advance screening. Tassler addressed how the net was able to accomplish this despite the writer’s strike earlier this year, where other networks seemed to have come up short.

“We didn’t start pilot season early. All during the strike we were working tirelessly. We tried to get as much material in as early as possible … finding new ways to assess the viability of content as a series.”