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At TCA, CBS Addresses Controversies Amid Programming Announcements
August 1, 2019  | By Mike Hughes
 


LOS ANGELES – Just as CBS is renewing Love Island, its other summer reality show faces fresh scrutiny.

"We have heard things about (Big Brother) that we are not comfortable with," Kelly Kahl, President of CBS Entertainment, confirmed during the network's session at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour.

One of the show's producers has been chastised for prompting a contestant to give outspoken soundbites, he said, and will be talked to after the season. The producer, as well as producers on all CBS shows, received unconscious-bias training. 

That's a charge that has followed reality shows – the tendency to have contestants fit racial stereotypes. In his 2012 book Race-Baiter, Eric Deggans (a veteran TV critic on NPR and in newspapers) had a chapter on reality shows, with Big Brother and Survivor contestants discussing being stereotyped. Thom Sherman, Sr. Executive VP of Programming (left), partly defended the Big Brother record: "Half of our (current) cast is diverse, and the last three winners have been diverse." But he and Kahl granted there's work to be done.

CBS has been trying for a new image after long-time leader Les Moonves was fired for sexual abuse. Complicating things, actress Eliza Dushku (top) made allegations of sexual harassment by Michael Weatherly (top) on the set of Bull; producer Glenn Gordon Caron then fired her from what could have been a long-running show. Eventually, the New York Times reported, she received a $9.5 million settlement.

Kahl agreed that there was a settlement; he said Weatherly was "remorseful" and that both he and Caron are undergoing leadership training.

Other headlines from the session revolved around the names David E. Kelley and Kaley Cuoco (left). 

Writer/Producer Kelley, who, since the early 1990s, has been a creator, writer, or producer – sometimes all three – on successful shows from L.A. Law to Big Little Lies, is returning to CBS. He'll write and produce (for the 2020-2021 season) The Lincoln Lawyer, based on a series of Michael Connelly's novels about a lawyer working out of his car. 

Kaley Cuoco will come back to CBS as a producer this time. The Big Bang star has a comedy, Pretty, in which a young woman (Santina Muha) moves to Los Angeles, hoping to find love and be the new Oprah.

 
 
 
 
 
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