CBS exec Nina Tassler says network is committed to diversity, citing Halle Berry and Maggie Q roles as progress
BEVERLY HILLS — CBS now has the most solid and successful prime-time lineup on broadcast television, and the boss said Thursday she’s working to make it more diverse.
CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler added that the network is just beginning to work out details of Stephen Colbert’s late-night talk show, that she’s “very confident” the “Big Bang Theory” cast will do more seasons, and that she’s “still p—ed” over “The Good Wife” not getting a Best Drama Emmy bid.
Tassler pointed to major syndication deals for “The Good Wife” and “Elementary,” along with the “global dominance” of “NCIS,” as evidence of CBS’ success in creating both popular and lucrative programming.
At a panel for TV critics, however, Tassler was asked why most prime-time fall CBS casts are overwhelmingly white.
She replied that “you have to look at the broader picture of the network,” including daytime and summer shows, which she said reflect greater diversity.
She noted that Halle Berry stars in the summer hit “Extant” and that Lucy Liu and Maggie Q have prominent roles in “Elementary” and the new show “Stalker,” respectively.
“We don’t look at it as trying to meet a ‘diversity quota,’?” said Tassler. “We look for every opportunity to add diversity.”
Regarding new programming, Tassler said she still hopes the “How I Met Your Mother” sequel, “How I Met Your Dad,” can make it to the air even though the first pilot didn’t make the cut this spring.
“It’s not unusual to reshoot a pilot if it doesn’t completely work,” she said.
Tassler said the midseason launch for “Battle Creek,” a drama from “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, doesn’t indicate a lack of faith in that show. Even though Gilligan is also working on AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” Tassler said CBS is “happy with whatever way, shape or form” he’s involved in “Battle Creek.”
AS ONE of the stars of the X-Men film franchise, Halle Berry is no stranger to the sci-fi genre.
So it comes as no surprise that Berry has chosen a sci-fi-framed TV series for her return to the small screen.
Extant is Berry’s first TV series in 23 years and in it she plays astronaut Molly Watts, who returns from a 13-month solo space mission to discover she’s inexplicably pregnant.
Goran Visnjic, who plays Berry’s on-screen husband John, told APN: “It is a family drama, but it’s a family drama with a lot of elements of science fiction.
“I don’t want to label it sci-fi because you think of shows like Star Trek and Stargate, and this is not that. I’ll just call it Extant for now.”
Steven Spielberg was an executive producer on the pilot of the new US drama, which is created by up-and-coming writer and producer Mickey Fisher.
Visnjic, best known for his long-running role on medical drama ER, says Extant is a fast-paced series.
“We only have 13 episodes in which we’re trying to tell a whole story,” he said.
“You see (in episode one) that Halle’s character is pregnant very quickly and then John finds out immediately in episode two,” he said.
“Then we find out we’ve been lied to and it’s not how we imagined things. There’s going to be a delivery of the baby; everything is happening very quickly.
“When I talked to the producers and the writers they promised we’re going to be giving the audience a lot of answers. We’re not going to have a great premise and then keep milking it.”
The first episode sees Molly, recently returned from space, trying to settle back into family life.
But her family is anything but ordinary.
Her husband John is a leader in the field of robotics and has created an artificially intelligent prototype he and Molly have been raising as their son, Ethan.
“John is not aware that he’s opening Pandora’s Box here, but by the end of the season he will be,” Visnjic said.
In this Sunday’s episode, after Molly collapses and experiences a vision Sam agrees to give her an ultrasound so she can learn more about her mysterious pregnancy.
Extant airs Sundays at 8.45pm on Channel 10.
MOLLY UNCOVERS DETAILS OF HER MYSTERIOUS PREGNANCY AND LEARNS DISTURBING INFORMATION ABOUT ANOTHER SOLO MISSION, ON “EXTANT,” WEDNESDAY, JULY 16
“Extinct” – After Molly collapses and experiences a vision of her encounter on the Seraphim, Sam agrees to give her an ultrasound so she can learn more about her mysterious pregnancy. Also, Molly tracks down Kryger and he reveals the disturbing details of his own solo mission that the International Space Exploration Agency (ISEA) is keeping secret, on EXTANT, Wednesday, July 16 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
CHEAT TWEET: Molly uncovers details of her mysterious pregnancy, learns secrets hidden by the ISEA on @Extant_CBS! 7/16 9PM ET/PT http://bit.ly/1iSnVyh
Halle Berry (Molly Woods)
Goran Visnjic (John Woods)
Pierce Gagnon (Ethan Woods)
Hiroyuki Sanada (Hideki Yasumoto)
Michael O’Neill (Alan Sparks)
Grace Gummer (Julie Gelineau)
Camryn Manheim (Sam Barton)
Maury Sterling (Gordon Kern)
Brad Beyer (Harmon Kryger)
Annie Wershing (Femi Dodd)
Tyler Hilton (Charlie Arthurs)
WRITTEN BY: Leslie Bohem
DIRECTED BY: Matt Earl Beesley
Halle Berry’s experience playing a super-powered heroine in the X-Men film franchise served her well when it came time to portray an astronaut in the new science-fiction television series Extant, says show-runner Greg Walker.“She did a lot of research. She spoke to a NASA consultant, [Kady Coleman]. And she also went up in the Zero [Gravity] plane, where you can experience weightlessness for short periods of time. So, she was a true gamer. She was a die-hard. She went up and really felt what it was like to be in a Zero G environment in a real way,” Walker said in a teleconference with reporters last week.“And she’d had a lot of experience on the wire work, you know, just from her work in X-Men. I’d kind of forgotten about that by the time we were shooting the [Extant] pilot. I looked at her… you know, it was late one night while we were shooting all that stuff and I said: ‘Oh, my God, are you OK? This must be exhausting.’ And she was like, ‘I’ve been doing this for a while.’ So, I’d forgotten that she’d had some experience flying and floating.”
So, did Berry get sick while she was on the Zero G plane?
“People around her got sick, but, no, she didn’t. She made it to the very end,” Walker said. “Yes, she toughed it out.”
The producer went on to say he regards the show as a futuristic family drama, adding Berry does a wonderful job of playing an astronaut who tries to reconnect with her husband and son after a year in outer space.
“It looks so effortless,” Walker said. “You know, she’s so powerful and so emotionally compelling. And there’s this great sort of soulfulness and vulnerability to her.”
“And then to get to watch her pull that off on the set and to watch her sort of fearlessness take after take, and you know, to watch her process, and she’s very conscientious. She really digs into it with the writers and she has a point of view about the character and so I don’t know. To me, it’s just like it’s thrilling to watch. And I think people are going to love it. I think, again, it’s one of those things that, you know, in movies you go see her once or twice a year, and they’re going to have the opportunity to go on this great 13-hour journey with her, you know, with an actress that people just love.”
Co-starring Goran Visnjic, Camryn Manheim and Grace Gummer, Extant is scheduled to premiere July 9 on CBS.
Halle Berry is coming to a TV near you – and she can’t wait.
The second-time mom, 47, recently told PEOPLE “some of the best writing is on television right now,” and she hopes people will see some of that in her latest project, Steven Spielberg’s new CBS sci-fi thriller, Extant.
“It is like the new golden age of television,” she said. “As a woman, when I read this, it was such a strong character. I always gravitate toward strong, complicated woman characters. When I heard Steven Spielberg is a part of it, I thought, wow, that is another big reason to be a part of it.”
And it doesn’t hurt that the show films in Los Angeles.
“I really wanted to work in town and be with my kids,” she said. “I no longer can afford to have the gypsy life. There are others who are more important and who I need to think about. This allows me to stay home and still do something really creative and cool that I love.”
“So far, it is a lot of work. It is long days, but at least I’m in the city where my kids are so I can see them and they can come visit me. I can tuck them in at night. I can see them every weekend.”
Speaking of her little ones, at this point, it isn’t looking like her older child Nahla, 7, is itching to be center stage.
“Sometimes she comes up with stuff and I am like, that was pretty good,” Berry said. “But no, she hasn’t got the acting bug. She isn’t even really sure what acting is. She thinks I am a real life princess that is what she tells her friends.”
“She sees me when I say, ‘I am going to work,’ and I am dressed up and wearing fancy dresses so she says you are a real princess why else would you be dressing up like that for work?”
The show’s executive producer Mickey Fisher tells PEOPLE, “I don’t know Halle’s secret to balancing her work and her family. To me, it’s like watching someone do a magic trick, because she makes it look so easy. I’ve offered to be ‘the manny’ if she ever needs a hand, but so far she hasn’t taken me up on it.”
After all, it’s Berry who likes to be the one taking care of others.
“It could be the end of a long week of shooting and she brings an In & Out truck to the set,” Fisher says. “That generous spirit makes a huge difference.”
Extant premieres on July 9 at 9 p.m. ET.
SOURCE (First look of Halle in Extant is also viewable at the link)