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CBS defends 'Talk' firings

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CBS defended axing hosts Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini from The Talk and the decision to move critical darling The Good Wife to Sunday nights at the network’s press tour presentation in Pasadena on Wednesday.

The network dropped Peete and Remini from the daytime panel chat show in August and replaced them with Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Tyler. A critic asked entertainment president Nina Tassler about the move, citing Talk cohost Julie Chen, who is married to CBS CEO Les Moonves. Early reports suggested that Chen orchestrated the ousters, but CBS has vigorously denied the claims.

Tassler wouldn’t touch the issue of Chen, but defended the move. “Any show in its first season goes through multiple changes,” she said. “We were looking at a dynamic, we were looking at the quality of the commentary and we saw an opportunity [to improve the show]. The ratings have stayed virtually the same. The format may continue to evolve over time. Other talk shows have had host changes and survived as well. The most important part was the content and that the discussions have stayed spirited.” 

Another critic concern was moving The Good Wife to Sunday nights. The show’s ratings have been modest against ABC’s Desperate Housewives, and there’s always the matter of CBS’ sports coverage, which delays the drama’s start time. “We do hear from a lot of viewers about the overruns,” Tassler said, “but that means we have a passionate and engaged audience.”

She noted that Sunday night’s audience tends to be more “upscale” (read: wealthier) and female skewing and said the network continues to feel it was a good move. “It feels like a better fit on Sunday night.”