CBS Prez Nina Tassler on Gay Characters: Same Song, Different Verse


CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler (pictured above) recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her network’s diversity when it comes to their programming. When the subject of CBS’ lack of gay scripted characters came up (for which GLAAD gave them an F), here is what Tassler had to say:

Any show can have gay characters. We’re conscious of that as well. This
year one of our pilots, "Quinn-tuplets," has gay characters. Any series
can. This year we made a concerted effort to suggest to producers, if
not in pilot, then as we go forward.

Hmm, does any of that sound familiar? It should. Here is what Tassler told me last August at the Television Critics Association tour in Los Angeles.

First of all, it is a source of concern for me personally and for
the network. We have a fundamental commitment to the philosophy of
diversity across the schedule and representation of gays and lesbians
on air. The interesting thing is that I do think we have good
representation in our non-scripted programming, but we certainly have to
include [GLBT characters] in our scripted programming. And what I’m
hearing … several of our programs going into development have gay and
lesbian characters already pitched into the show’s themselves. Like I
said, it’s an area we need to work on, need to focus on and hopefully
we’lll do better next year.

And the year before that, when talking to us as part of our in depth report on Gays in Primetime, Tassler had this to say:

…that “philosophically” what their network is
about is a “policy of inclusion,” that when it comes to the GLBT
community, she feels a “personal investment in ensuring that those
portrayals are open-minded and positive.” … When it’s pointed out
that these are isolated episodes and there are currently no recurring
GLBT characters on CBS, Tassler concedes, “It is few and far between.”
And she believes that when it comes to getting out the message that
regular gay characters are welcomed on CBS, “I know we haven’t done
enough. And I know we can do more.”

Gee, it always seem to about "next year" with CBS.

So back in 2008, Tassler told us she knew the network could do more to get out its message that gay characters are welcome on the network. It’s not as if she said, "Oh, dear! I had no idea about this problem! Thanks for bringing it to our attention!"

Nope, she knew more than two years ago that they were failing miserably on this score, and yet it’s 2010 and all she can point to is one pilot that has gay characters. As anyone who follows TV knows, the odds are against any one pilot actually making it to air. Then there is that vague promise to add gay characters to shows as they "go forward." Gee, what kind of screentime do you think a gay character shoehorned into a show can expect?

If these are the only reasons Tassler can offer for us to believe her, my crystal ball says the network is looking at another F from GLAAD — and that they deserve it.

So I guess we’ll just have to settle for Jordan Pious and Carol and Brandy on The Amazing Race, the still unexplored sexuality of Kalinda on The Good Wife, and dead gay lovers on NCIS: Los Angeles. Thanks so much, Nina.

Meet the face of gay visibility on CBS!

Yes, I’m bitter.


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