By James Hibberd
Updated January 19, 2015 at 04:10 PM EST
Credit: NBC

Being a TV executive means having a giant heart. For the past two weeks at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, top broadcast leaders repeatedly told reporters how much they “loved” certain shows. There was so much l-word in the air, executives practically swooned on stage professing their undying devotion to their current programming — 46 times, in fact.

Take CBS: Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler told reporters she “fell in love” with the pitch for the upcoming comic-book series Supergirl and assured, “I love the superhero genre.” She noted many critics “love” their sitcom Mom and confided “we love it too.” For CBS’ upcoming comedy The Odd Couple, “I love what these guys are doing,” while Amazing Race is “one of our beloved unscripted franchises.” As for canceled freshman comedy The Millers, well … Tassler doesn’t quite love that show anymore, but “we still, as I said, love [producer Greg Garcia] and are looking to him to develop another big hit.” (Just not that one).

NBC’s executive session got even more steamy. That new Dolly Parton TV movie slate they’re working on? Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt declared “to know Dolly is to love her.” While NBC president Jennifer Salke divulged their old Thursday comedy block had shows “that we love” (until they were moved).

Greenblatt said Hannibal is “a show we love” (he said it twice, so he must double-mean it). He also announced he’s pushing the struggling drama’s third season premiere into to summer. Why? Because “we also love summer.”

Salke claimed they also “love” the similarly ratings-challenged Constantine, with Greenblatt adding, “we love [star] Matt Ryan” (translation: We want to try him in a cop show next).

Greenblatt confided they “love that Chicago Fire has come into its own,” and “we love” upcoming thriller Odyssey, and Salke admitted they “fall in love with” unique projects like The Slap.

But their biggest emotional repository was for Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims. Their relationship with the writer-producer is at a delicate stage: Parenthood is ending. Katims’ other show, sitcom About a Boy, is bombing. And they’re trying to get him to develop new content. So for Parenthood, “we love that show,” Greenblatt said, “and are obsessed.” And Katims himself? “We love Katims. We’re actually developing several things with Jason.” Yes but how does Greenblatt feel about Katims personally? “I love him.”

Then Salke jumped in, lest her longing for Katims seem overshadowed by Greenblatt’s outpouring: “We love him. I worked with him at Fox for 10 years before I got here. He’s fantastic. He’s the gold standard for character and emotion and even funny and heart warming, and so we just have to find the right thing with him. We are committed to him and love him and respect him immensely.” Wow!

Fox chiefs Gary Newman and Dana Walden may have only taken over the broadcast network last year, but their hearts are already aflutter. After a Fox programming highlight reel played for reporters, Newman told the audience, “I love that reel” and “I love it even more now that Empire is a part of it.”

Walden feels overwhelming affection for MasterChef Junior, which rescued the network’s Tuesday from total disaster this fall, pointing out “we love Gordon [Ramsay]” and “love the flexibility” of scheduling the show. Even Walden’s two daughters “love the show.” Walden also revealed “we love” Fox’s long-running procedural Bones. “It’s been so meaningful to the studio.” Awww.

When asked about Sleepy Hollow, which dive-bombed in the ratings this fall, Walden assured “we really love the show” and “we love [stars] Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie.” Sick kids drama Red Band Society may have been axed after just one season, but Newman promised its cancellation did not come from hate in his heart. “We really fell in love with that show,” he sighed.

The top executive would also “love nothing more than than to do another 24” (Really? Nothing more?). And he confessed that getting Fox’s upcoming procedural Backstrom on the air has been a truly epic romance. “[Backstrom] has been a love affair for us for over two years.” Shhh, don’t tell 24!

But then Newman slipped when a reporter brought up former American Idol judge Simon Cowell, who the network is reportedly trying to woo for a new project. “We like Simon very much,” he said.


Like? You merely like Simon Cowell? What the f—k is that?

But then Newman tried to save his blunder, by quickly adding: “And we would love to be in business with him.”

So I guess that’s okay then. But you better check yourself Newman, with all that negativity.

Over at The CW … oh no. This is bizarre. The CW doesn’t love any of its shows! Entertainment president Mark Pedowitz’ entire TCA executive session was 100 percent free of “love.” One can only imagine how his producers and stars survive given the man’s coldly brutal emotional shutout. Why, it’s almost like he doesn’t feel the need to throw around a word representing humanity’s most powerful emotion to describe TV shows he clearly already supports by virtue of them being on the air or something!

And at last, we come to ABC entertainment president Paul Lee. He may be a Brit, but he’s just as much of a lovebug as his Yank counterparts.

The executive “loves” new comedy Fresh Off the Boat and thinks audience are “going to fall in love with it” too. But what about Boat‘s inspiration, Eddie Huang, who just publicly trashed the show in an essay? Lee could never hold a grudge. “We love Eddie,” he said.

Lee “really loves” upcoming drama American Crime, and has “always loved” Revenge and also “loved the British series” that was the basis for ABC’s coming Secrets and Lies.

While Lee doesn’t quite feel amore for ABC’s troublesome Tuesday at 8 p.m. slot “we would love to be able” to find a show for it. He also noted “we love Shark Tank” and “we love all our sharks.” And SHIELD producers Marvel Studios? “We love Marvel.”

But what about Nashville? Does he love Nashville too? “We love that show.” Whew!

Finally, to prove just how much the l-word really means at TCA, there was this: Lee’s feelings even extended to the furniture he was using on stage.

“I love my chair,” the network entertainment president told reporters, quite sincerely. “It’s very comfortable.”