In a surprise move, Nina Tassler, who has run CBS Entertainment since 2004 but has been with the company since 1997, is stepping down as chairman at the end of the year, CBS announced on Wednesday. CBS's current programming head, Glenn Geller, will succeed Tassler as the president of CBS Entertainment and will begin overseeing entertainment programming immediately. He will work closely with Tassler, who will remain in an advisory role through at least 2017, during the transition. Tassler is moving on from one of the biggest, cushiest, and most secure jobs in the entertainment business to "pursue other creative interests."
Tassler was the longest-serving entertainment chief and the only woman running a network solo. During her tenure she oversaw the successes of series like The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, and long-running procedural hits like Criminal Minds, and the NCIS and CSI franchises. She came on board in August 1997 as Vice President, Drama, CBS Productions, before taking on the role of Senior Vice President of Drama Development at the network in 1998, and then President of Entertainment in 2004. She was promoted to chairman just last year.
"CBS is a special place," Tassler said in a statement. "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. It all starts at the top with Leslie [Moonves], my boss, mentor and friend for two and a half decades, and a leader who inspires excellence in every part of the creative and business process. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Leslie, my colleagues at CBS and all the actors, producers and writers who were part of this incredible journey. I will always love this place, yet it is time for my next chapter, and I’m thrilled that I can pursue my other creative interests while still being part of the company. I pass the baton to Glenn with great confidence and pride. He is an outstanding leader with great respect for the artistic process and a clear vision for programming success."
In 1997, Tassler followed current CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves from Warner Bros. to CBS. Moonves described his relationship with Tassler as "one of the proudest partnerships of my professional life." Geller will report directly to Moonves in his new position. He joined CBS in 2001 and since 2013 has overseen production of current programming on both CBS and The CW. As president, he will be in charge of developing new content for primetime, as well as oversee the network's daytime and late night divisions. The fact that CBS has promoted from within, and promoted someone who has worked with Tassler for years, likely means that CBS is confident in its standings. And it should be: the network has been the most watched of the Big Four networks for 12 of the past 13 years.