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CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler on Jay Leno: 'It was misguided'

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CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said NBC’s decision to program the now-ailing The Jay Leno Show in primetime was “misguided” and though it allowed her network’s 10 p.m. dramas to generate more ad revenue, “it had a negative impact on the business.” She had more harsh words for NBC, which has yet to announce definitively what will happen to the future of Leno or Conan O’Brien.

“Ultimately there is no substitute for developing great programming, working with great talent and getting your programs on the air,” argued Tassler, who spoke to the nation’s TV critics today in Pasadena, CA. “Our creative community was somewhat bruised by (Leno). As it was taking place, a lot of people were put out of work. A lot of people saw this as having a pretty negative impact on our business right now. I think it was misguided and our business is thriving right now. We are enjoying success with new hit shows, as is ABC, as is Fox. Leno was an experiment that obviously did not work.”

In other news, Tassler said Charlie Sheen’s ongoing legal woes shouldn’t affect production of the network’s top-rated comedy Two and a Half Men. Sheen was arrested Christmas Day on suspicion of felony menacing, domestic violence and other charges. He will return to Colorado to face the charges next month. “We’re being very sensitive to the fact that it’s a very personal and very private matter for Charlie,” she said. “It has no impact on the network. His show is proceeding along with its regular production schedule and has had no impact. Right now, it’s business as usual.”

Tassler didn’t beat around the bush when she answered a question about whether the organ transplant drama Three Rivers has been officially cancelled. “Unfortunately we’ve all known each other long enough that when something is on hiatus, its code for something else.” But she acknowledged the network still has plenty of new series to program, including 18 more episodes of  the actioner Flashpoint and 13 episodes of the new drama The Bridge, an Aaron Douglas starrer about a cop-cum-union rep. “We had a terrific fall launch,” she said. “A lot of our shows are working so we had more content than we had real estate.”

More from the winter press tour:

Big Bang scoop: romance for Penny and Sheldon?

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