CBS Inc. President Laurence A. Tisch flew here Friday to host a party for Hollywood's major television suppliers that was meant to demonstrate his support for Kim LeMasters, president of the network's entertainment division.
"The real message is: 'We're 100% behind Kim and his people out here. We have a total commitment to get back to being No. 1,' " Tisch said in a phone interview shortly after his arrival from New York. "We made it in news; now we want to make it in entertainment."
More than 300 studio executives, producers and agents were invited to a cocktail reception at CBS' Television City Friday evening to meet Tisch and hear his pep talk about the network's determination to be first in the ratings, its commitment to quality programming and its willingness to pay for and nurture such fare.
"I think 'Frank's Place' is first-class programming," he said in the interview. "I think it will grow. It may take two years, but as long as a program has quality, we will back it."
Tisch said there was no grand design or timetable for CBS to climb out of second place and regain the prime-time ratings crown that the network had worn for six years before NBC took it away three years ago.
"Nobody is under the gun to deliver a miracle tomorrow; there is no pressure on anyone to deliver something that cannot be done," he said. "It's not going to happen next month, and there are no short cuts. . . . It may take one year, two years, three years. As long as we're moving in the right direction, I'm satisfied."