Very aware that it doesn’t have anything to prove, CBS was all swagger and confidence at today’s TCA presentation, confronting the loss of the stars of two of their bedrock shows—namely, Two And Half Men and CSI—with a shrug and a vow that “We’re going to do very well” anyway. Because they are CBS, and they are immutable—and also because they already have two other stars to replace them. Both Ted Danson inheriting Laurence Fishburne’s tissue samples and Ashton Kutcher stepping into a smoking, Charlie Sheen-shaped crater have been so thoroughly covered already that CBS’ Nina Tassler had little to add, merely repeating that they’re stars, they’re stars, they’re stars, they’re big, bright shining stars, somehow they are not horrible, hateful people who make their fellow cast and crew dread the thought of coming to work, and that they will bring even more viewers to CBS, even some who had never considered watching those shows before. The notes from our embedded reporter Todd VanDerWerff basically read like this: “Extraordinary… tremendous… heavyweights… very excited… the best.” You get the picture.
As for new information, we do have this: Kutcher’s Two And A Half Men character will be named “Walden Schmidt” and he will play “an Internet billionaire with a broken heart.” Those Internet billions are what will allow him to purchase Charlie Sheen’s house in the aftermath of the Funniest Funeral Ever, and presumably that broken heart is what will lead him to ask one-and-a-half complete strangers to stick around and be roomies, despite the fact that he’s really rich and doesn’t need them. Elsewhere, CBS has decided to cool it with the TV movies unless they involve Tom Selleck’s detective Jesse Stone, and like everyone else in the business right now, they’re developing some ideas for song-and-dance shows: “They’re noisy, they’re theatrical, and they’re fun!” Tassler exclaimed in a way that instantly made them sound the opposite of fun. Also, that Rob Schneider comedy on the differences between white and Mexican people is apparently slotted for midseason. It is now called Rob, but pronounced with a Mexican accent to make it funnier. Okay, not really, but they could get away with that. They’re CBS. They’re going to do very well.