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CBS Entertainment’s Amy Reisenbach Talks Industry Turmoil

CBS Entertainment’s Amy Reisenbach Talks Industry Turmoil

CBS Entertainment president Amy Reisenbach came to the Banff World Media Festival on Tuesday amid unprecedented change in the global industry.

“It’s definitely a time of tumult and change,” Reisenbach said during an informal In Conversation With: series address. “Despite everything that’s going on, we have this fantastic year and we feel like we have all this momentum going into the next season.”

Reisenbach’s appearance in Banff came as CBS Entertainment-parent Paramount Global, the Hollywood studio led by controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, weighs a possible takeover by Skydance and RedBird Capital, or other potential suitors. “I can’t comment on anything regarding M&A. It’s very much above my head,” she said at the outset of her talk.

But she did take the opportunity to cite George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS, who is among a trio of three studio execs — including Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios; and Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures — who now run Paramount Global.

The trio took over the studio when previous CEO, Bob Bakish, left Paramount in April when the company began exclusive merger talks with Skydance. “It’s obviously incredibly comforting to know that George Cheeks as part of the co-CEOs office. It gives us the opportunity at CBS to really feel secure and stable and focus on what we’re doing, which is the business of CBS,” Reisenbach added.

On the scripted side, Reisenbach said CBS Entertainment is increasingly bypassing pilots and going straight-to-series with orders, and marketing upcoming TV shows like movies, with glitzy marketing and teasers.

“We make big, broad huge hits,” she told the Banff festival, and so the network is increasingly not tied to a schedule or season timeline, but will supersize marketing, as with the premiere of Justin Hartley’s Tracker in a post-Super Bowl slot at CBS. “We’re just not being beholden to a certain calendar,” the exec said.

CBS, however, is refreshing its primetime schedule by ending long runs for hits like Blue Bloods, Young Sheldon and titles from the NCIS and CSI franchises. “They’re extremely tough calls to make. I’m a big fan of TV first, and I sympathize with fans out there who are disappointed in the fact that these shows are ending,” Reisenbach said.

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Of course, CBS won’t be moving away from franchises anytime soon. “First and foremost, it always needs having a reason for being. We’re lucky to have several billion-dollar franchises at Paramount Global and CBS. NCIS is an obvious example,” Reisenbach said.

“Our goal is never just do it to do it,” she added about extending the world of franchise series. A key creative concept to continue a franchise is key: “We’re not looking to just pump out a bunch of widgets,” she added.

Young Sheldon, itself a The Big Bang Theory prequel, is getting a spin-off to focus on Georgie (Montana Jordan), Sheldon’s older brother, and his fiancée, Mandy (Emily Osment). “We’re calling it a sequel to the prequel,” Reisenbach said.

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