CBS OKs Pilot for John Mayer Variety Show

Jan 14, 2009  •  Post A Comment

CBS is moving forward with its long-rumored John Mayer variety show, the network confirmed Wednesday.
Awards veteran Ken Ehrlich is set to executive produce the hour while Rob Cohen (“The Big Bang Theory”) is on board to write comedy sketches for the project, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said at the Television Critics Association press tour.
Check out all of TVWeek’s TCA coverage here.
A backdoor pilot for the show will tape this spring, but CBS hasn’t yet decided when it will air. The network will decide whether to greenlight a series after taping the pilot.
“He’s so smart and he’s so funny,” Ms. Tassler said, saying the failure of NBC’s recent Rosie O’Donnell variety special didn’t scare CBS from jumping into the variety game.
“Oh, no,” she said when asked if that program’s performance frightened the network. “I mean, (it scared me) for other reasons, but no.”
The confirmation of Mr. Mayer’s project was one of the few nuggets of news to emerge from Ms. Tassler’s session with reporters at the CBS portion of winter press tour. Ms. Tassler used CBS’s strong fourth-quarter performance—the network ranked first in viewers and adults 18-49—as justification for touting the viability of broadcast television.
“Network television still works,” Ms. Tassler declared. “Advertisers are still putting their money in network television (because) it’s the most effecient way of reaching viewers.”
In carefully scripted opening remarks, the longtime CBS entertainment chief set out to debunk some myths, as she put it, about the TV business—and CBS in particular. Chief among those myths: CBS has too many crime dramas.
“Seven of the top 15 shows are crime dramas. Six of ours have increased (in ratings),” she said. “I’m not concerned about how many crime dramas we have.”
Ms. Tassler also touted CBS’ strong Monday night comedy performance and its tendency to package compatible shows in adjacent timeslots.
The executive also took a shot at NBC’s Jeff Zucker without ever mentioning his name or network.
After noting that “one of our competitors” had recently made a “bold” move that was being touted as a fix to a broken system, Ms. Tassler said, “We don’t buy it. It was certainly the right move for their network. But it doesn’t suggest the current television system doesn’t work.”
Ms. Tassler was clearly referring to NBC’s decision to dump 10 p.m. dramas in favor of “The Jay Leno Show.”
Later, reporters pressed Ms. Tassler for a more specific response to NBC’s move.
“Our first reaction when they did that was to say, ‘Thank you,'” she joked. “Our 10 o’clock dramas do very well. The creative community was shocked when they heard about it. You have so many top-tier talent that vies for that timeslot every year. Why should one network’s failure redirect (our) strategy? We’re going to continue to promote, develop and strentgthen 10 o’clock.”
In other matters:
—Ms. Tassler confirmed that plans are proceeding for an “NCIS” spinoff, something first reported months ago.
—She confirmed that “Swingtown” is officially dead. The show has been out of production for months, but until now, Ms. Tassler had publicly held open the (slim) possibility of the show’s revival.
—She said CBS would produce about the same number of pilots as it has in recent years.
(Editor: Baumann)
(11:15 a.m.: Corrected name of producer in 2nd paragraph)


  1. Hey John,
    Can I be your first guest?

  2. RT He is so creative it’s got to be great!

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