reality TV reviews and news

CBS president Glenn Geller, Big Brother and Survivor superfan, is out

Former CBS entertainment president Glenn Geller, right, with actor Gary Sinise at the CBS' TCA event on Aug. 10, 2016. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS)

Glenn Geller, the president of CBS Entertainment, is out of his job after less than two years. More than any other network entertainment president, he’s publicly expressed enthusiasm for reality television, especially CBS’ Survivor and Big Brother, but also other shows, including all of the Real Housewives shows.

At his first TCA press tour in January 2016, he said:

“I’m a big fan of reality, both as a viewer and a programmer.  Survivor and Big Brother are appointment TV for me and my husband, and I have plans for more reality at CBS.”

However, Geller’s only reality show launch was Hunted, which has yet to be renewed. It had a great debut but lost viewers throughout its run, and had problems with transparency and honesty. Geller previously said he thought Hunted would be “the next big reality hit.”

Geller has been on leave for two months since suffering a mild heart attack; in a note to CBS colleagues, he said he’d be back after the networks’ upfront presentation. Instead, he’s leaving.

CBS’ freezing cold, ice-covered statement said just this:

“CBS Corporation announced today that CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller has advised the company that he will step down from his current role. The company is in discussions with Mr. Geller for a production deal with CBS Television Studios.”

Update, 5 p.m. ET: In a longer release about the new leadership team (see below), CBS CEO Les Moonves says:

“We have great respect for Glenn’s many accomplishments and his tireless efforts over 16 years at CBS—both at the Network and our Studio. He’s a smart programmer and loves the creative process, and we look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Earlier: The Hollywood Reporter calls this a “shakeup,” as does Variety, which reported:

“Geller met with Moonves last week and asked to transition to a new role in light of suffering a heart attack at the age of 45. It’s expected that he will set up a production deal with CBS Television Studios. CBS sources emphasized that it was Geller’s decision to leave the entertainment president post.”

Totally unrelated, I’m sure: CBS came in third place (out of four) in the advertiser-friendly 18- to 49-year-old demo this year, but led with overall viewers.

Last year, CBS announced—in the most tone-deaf way possible—a fall schedule with scripted shows starring all white men, and is repeating that this fall, except one of its new shows stars a black man, Shemar Moore.

Two new CBS entertainment executives

Replacing Geller: a pair of executives, CBS scheduling executive Kelly Kahl and The CW programming executive Thom Sherman.

Kahl, who’s worked for CBS CEO Les Moonves since 1996, sometimes tweets about Big Brother and Survivor, usually about start times (like when Big Brother was delayed) or ratings (such as this).

Deadline says:

“Both Sherman and Kahl are coming off strong showings at the upfronts. The CW had its best slate of pilots in years, while Kahl made a successful debut onstage at Carnegie Hall, presenting CBS’ fall schedule to advertisers in Geller’s absence. It is unclear how the two will divvy up the president responsibilities, with co-president titles considered likely.”

Update, 5 p.m. ET: CBS offered more details in a late-afternoon press release:

“CBS Corporation announced today a new leadership team for its Entertainment division, promoting long-time Entertainment executive Kelly Kahl to President, CBS Entertainment, and naming veteran creative executive Thom Sherman to the position of Senior Executive Vice President, Programming.

Kahl, who will assume leadership of the Entertainment division effective immediately, will report directly to Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO, CBS Corporation. Sherman, who will join CBS from The CW later this week, will oversee creative affairs for entertainment programming in all dayparts and genres, reporting to Kahl.”