Moonves wary of reality overbite
Tue Jan 14, 2:13 AM ET
By Cynthia Littleton
LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- Reality TV is riding high right now, but hit-hungry broadcasters are in danger of once again oversaturating the airwaves with unscripted programs, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said Monday during the network's portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Hollywood.
"With the amount of reality shows announced, I'm sure (by) this spring and next fall (the networks) probably will have overdone it," Moonves said. "Everybody's looking for that quick fix, and a lot of times these shows do give you that. ... It's been an instant hit for Fox with 'American Idol' and with ABC for 'The Bachelor.' "
Moonves and CBS entertainment president Nancy Tellem emphasized that CBS has been selective about its reality development because its core schedule of comedies and dramas is generally performing well.
"We have a very balanced schedule; we're focused on building franchises," Tellem said. "With respect to Fox and ABC, they're looking much more for the quick fix. And there is an appetite out there to watch this. The question is how long."
All that said, Moonves admitted that CBS had been considering its own version of a matchmaker show a la ABC's "Bachelor" and Fox's "Joe Millionaire." And Moonves acknowledged that the network had inadvertently ruffled some feathers in rural America with its proposed "Beverly Hillbillies"-themed reality show -- in which a family from the sticks would decamp to a mansion in Beverly Hills -- but he also noted that the network has not formally greenlighted the project.
"It was not in any way, shape or form or intent to demean anybody. ... It's a show that is still very, very much in the discussion stages," Moonves said.
Overall, Moonves boasted that as the halfway point of the 2002-03 season approaches, CBS' primetime schedule is "thriving creatively and commercially" with such successful new series as "CSI: Miami," "Still Standing" and "Without a Trace." The Sunday 9-11 p.m. movie slot is among the exceptions, but Tellem vowed that the network was "committed" to maintaining longform programming in the time slot.