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CBS just made an surprising exec shakeup

TCA Summer Press Tour 2015TCA Summer Press Tour 2015
Nina Tassler is stepping down as head of CBS Entertainment at the end of 2015.Photograph by CBS via Getty Images

Nina Tassler, the longtime head of entertainment at CBS, is stepping down from that role despite steering the division through several years of ratings success.

CBS (CBS) said Tuesday that Tassler, who had been in the role since 2004, will step down as chairwoman of CBS Entertainment at the end of the year. One of her top lieutenants, Glenn Geller, will take control of the division at that time. Tassler will remain with CBS for the next two years, at least, the network said, as she serves out her current contract and works as an adviser during the transition.

Geller, who is currently an executive vice president of current programming at the network, will become president of the entertainment division and will oversee all entertainment programming and creative affairs. Geller joined CBS in 2001 after spending three years in the drama department at 20th Century Fox Television (FOX).

In a statement, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves called working with Tassler “one of the proudest partnerships of my professional life.” Moonves also pointed to their success working together both at CBS and Warner Bros. Television, where Tassler served as the head of drama development, helping to develop hit show ER, while Moonves served as CEO.

“Nina is a creative executive with the instincts of an artist, so it came as no surprise that she would eventually want to express those talents beyond television,” Moonves said in the statement.

Tassler was just as vague about the reasons behind the surprising leadership transition in her own statement. “I will always love this place, yet it is time for my next chapter, and I’m thrilled that I can pursue my other creative interests while still being part of the company,” she said.

Under Tassler’s watch, CBS has enjoyed a strong run of industry-leading ratings, including being the most-watched network for 12 out of the past 13 years. Her tenure includes a long list of hit series, including comedies The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, as well as dramas such as The Good Wife and the CSI and NCIS franchises (which she developed as head of the drama department before taking over the entertainment division). Tassler also helped steer the network through its recent transition in late-night programming, with new talk show hosts Stephen Colbert and James Corden joining the network within the past year.

In the most recent television season, CBS saw its total viewers increase by 5%, though its ratings in the coveted 18 to 49 year-old demographic slipped a bit and the network finished second in that category behind Comcast’s (CMCSA) NBC.