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CBS Boss Says Taraji P Henson's "Person Of Interest" Role Marginalized; Significant Creative Changes Coming!

by Tambay A. Obenson
January 11, 2012 9:49 PM
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Months later, after the rah-rah over her noticeable ommision from the series' early marketing materials, the TV Guide cover snub, and concern that all of that added up to a limited role for her on the program (all very-well covered here on S&A)... 

At the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour earlier today, Wednesday, CBS’ entertainment president Nina Tassler acknowledged that although she was “extremely pleased” with the ratings performance of Person of Interest, she confirmed that the network requested a significant creative change to the series where Taraji P. Henson's character is concerned, stating “We felt that the Carter [Taraji P. Henson] character was somewhat marginalized. We felt that the Carrter character was too peripheral... we asked if they [the show's producers] were open to bringing [her] into the superhero cave. It was a plan that they had in place, but more for the end of the season. We asked them if they were open to moving that up. We felt it was a key ingredient to [help] the show grow and expand.

I'm wondering what may have prompted this request/move on Tassler's part. 

Regardless, changes are acoming; it looks like viewers will be seeing a lot more Taraji on the series than they have thus far!

Tassler also added that she has "high hopes" for the future of the series, although a second season hasn't been ordered yet.

Worth noting, Person Of Interest is one of the better-rated new dramas of the season, drawing a just under 13 million viewers per episode.

So here's the million-dollar question; after all that chatter about the show (specifically Taraji's involvement in it) last year, how many of you actually watch the series? Secondly, if you haven't been watching, does the above quote from CBS brass inspire you to start watching it now?

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  • starry118 | January 17, 2012 8:26 PMReply

    Honestly, I'm tired of CBS throwing people of color a bone every now and then to keep us coming back. I used to watch a number of their shows, but the meager character development and screentime for people of color bothered me too much to look past it anymore. I watched the 1st episode of the season for POI to support Taraji. She did a fantastic job with the little time she was given, but at that point, I didn't think they weren't planning to expand her role anytime soon, and since the featured headline actors weren't really interesting enough to make me come back, I didn't. I want to support Taraji, so I may start watching, but it will definitely be with the side-eye...they aren't called the "good ole boy" network for nothing. Though, I guess all of network television could be given that moniker.

  • S Betts | January 13, 2012 9:11 PMReply

    I love this show. It's my favorite new show. Every episode has been good so far. I'm glad they are giving Taraji a bigger role. The last episode they had her help out.

  • | January 12, 2012 7:13 PMReply

    I have been watching and hope the series will continue.

  • Orville | January 12, 2012 3:27 PMReply

    I think people need to give Taraji credit for speaking out. I think Taraji is such a strong woman she refused to be silent about the TV Guide snub. Taraji is MORE famous than the two male stars on the show. Taraji is an Academy Award nominated actress and she deserves a higher profile. I am glad she will finally get the big attention she deserves. Taraji also got nominated for a Golden Globe last year for her performance in the TV film Taken From Me.

  • Donella | January 12, 2012 6:45 PM

    I agree. It takes courage to speak out on something like this. So I admire Taraji's courage. I am relieved that it worked out well.

  • Jug | January 12, 2012 5:00 PM

    Orville, I agree with you. Taraji should have spoken out. And she is Oscar nominated. But, look at it like this. If you're, say, Michael Jordan-the season BEFORE he won his first MVP, your asking price is much different the year AFTER. And that, has everything to do with the name cache you command as well as your skill. I'm sorry, but Taraji is not more well known than Michael Emerson or Jim Caviezal. Remember PASSION OF THE CHRIST? Yeah, Jim played Jesus. Remember that little film? Grossed $611 Million dollars worldwide? Made Mel Gibson a super duper $500 Mill in his own pocket? Put Jim on the cover of everything from here to eternity? Was as much loved as it was polarizing to Christians & non-believers alike because of it's graphic depiction of the brutality suffered by Christ & it's stance on the role of Jews in the whole affair? Yeah, THAT Jim Caviezal is the lead in POI. Because you & I know Taraji & really root for her & watch her stuff (I personally can't stand Jim, he's like watching paint dry) it doesn't really reflect what's happening in the Big Picture. Sometimes folks forget that there are other states aside from the 3 on the left coast & the 14 on the right whose tastes are quite different than what we want or think (especially on S&A)-much less the rest of the world. Hollywood is exporting shows to these international territories. Matter of fact, much of the design of a show is for that express purpose. Michael Emerson, of LOST fame who actually HAS an Emmy-is more well known off that alone and even he is still "that guy" for many people. The show is about them & Taraji's character, with or without her, is third billing, both on the call sheet & in the story. And this is a network that has had A Black Man as the lead of strong horse shows like POI-Dennis Haysbert on THE UNIT & LL on NCIS:LA, a ratings juggernaut-so it ain't all about her race. You're right, she should have called them out, like she did, bcuz it was bad business. And part of that bad business, SINCE she is Oscar & Emmy nominated, is that her reps weren't all over that & up in somebody's ass for it. Actually, it was bad business from jump to go after that role since she IS Oscar nominated, JJ Abrams or not. She should've been all over SCANDAL or TERRA NOVA. Maybe she did, I don't know, but there were definitely other opportunities last pilot season & I don't want to hear how bad it is for Black actresses, we get that, but if you are going to play the "I'm part of the In-Crowd card with my award noms, gimme mine" than you need to act like it & not lower your asking price or fight to up the depth of the character. She should have used that get outta jail free card & bumped over the other actresses, IF she could. Seems to me she didn't have that clout, which is a sin, but it is what it is. Taraji has said it herself she still has to audition for stuff (which isn't strange for CBS, Les Moonves makes everyone audition just cuz he can). And I bring this all up because now it's Nina Tassler commenting bout the dearth of story for Taraji (which I strongly hope it grows because Taraji deserves much more AND it's better story telling in the long run) at the TCA's for the world to hear, but real talk, Nina could care less. The show is a strong horse & will continue to be because it fits the CBS mold; aside from GOOD WIFE, the Good guys are Good, Bad guys are Bad & they get hemmed up at the end of every episode with a nice neat bow, so if Taraji's character turned into a crossing guard she'd probably be cool with it. LOL But the fact that they're talking course correction is definitely a good & welcome thing.

  • Troy | January 12, 2012 3:24 PMReply

    I like the show and her as the only good guy/gal on the entire show. She is Commissioner Gordon to Jesus's Batman. However that back story is kind of contrite. I refused to believe their are black female interrogators in the middle east. Linguistics okay. Focus on her dedication to her job and family and continue to put her at risk. She is the ever evolving stakes character and her qualities should be illuminated through the temporary stakes characters of each episode.

  • Jug | January 12, 2012 12:00 PMReply

    NOW, all I'm gonna say, is that waaaay back when..when folks were up in arms about Taraji getting "snubbed" by TV Guide cuz she was oh so Oscar Nominated (still say her reps fumbled but I digress)...and SOME of US said that her character was NOT the focus of the show & took MUCH heat about it...well I guess y'all had to hear it from the President of the fucking network, huh? Some people don't believe shit 'till they smell it LOL

  • Jamil | January 12, 2012 11:29 AMReply

    The above statement from Nina Tassler does inspire me to watch and take an extra interest in the show. As an actor who is of color it's important for me to take notice of this as it also may lead to other opportunities for me & those of my ethnic persuasion. Henson from what I have seen is a great addition to the show.

  • Rhonda | January 12, 2012 11:28 AMReply

    Yes I watch the show and love it! I think the writing is really good. I have noticed that Taraji's role has increased and will continue to watch and support the show. Good for Taraji!

  • ichoosethesun | January 12, 2012 10:06 AMReply

    I watch and this news just makes me eager to continue watching.

  • Johnson | January 12, 2012 2:39 AMReply

    The show is awesome. It only suffers because it airs against the juggernaut of Grey's Anatomy...I watch online though. Taraji & James have a great chemistry even though they are hardly physically in the same scenes. Her role was never marginal when you think about it. From the jump she was the only cop connecting the dots with Caviezel's character's trail because of her previous military training (YES, they gradually gave a sister a REAL back story). They spent the balance of the first episodes establishing the shows format and the backstory for "the machine" and Jim Caviezel's character as any new show would...I just want to know who is keeping her hair on point--rain or shine--her mane is WHIPPED FOR THE GODS!!!

  • elvin | January 12, 2012 1:33 AMReply

    I have watched the show from the beginning and I enjoy it, I am all too excited that they're increasing Ms. Henson role. I hope this will mean the show staying on for some seasons to come. Love it!

  • Swank Tony | January 12, 2012 12:55 AMReply

    I like the show's premise and watch it regularly. Initially Tariji's role seemed like a throwaway and they plugged in a person of color for the sake of diversity. Now that they're giving the role depth, that's good news for her. And as I write this I wonder what's the makeup of the show's demographic as it relates to people of color? Wouldn't be surprised if a lot of black men watch this and this may have been a move to stave off loss of viewership with the continued marginalization of Taraji's character.

  • Willem DeKooning | January 12, 2012 12:38 AMReply

    I don't watch a single program on CBS and I can't remember the last time I did...

  • starry118 | January 17, 2012 7:58 PM

    I agree...Black characters rarely receive development or much screentime on that network...I want to support Taraji though...hmm...

  • Roslynholcomb | January 11, 2012 11:16 PMReply

    I love this like damn and whoa. Her role has been increasing gradually. The last episode before thy went on hiatus was all about her, gave a little backstory, and lots of teasers. I promote it on Facebook all the time.

  • Darkan | January 11, 2012 10:33 PMReply

    I was very interested in the show until all the garbage of what she was going through surfaced. I won't support any network film or show that shows no love for people of color. I put my action where my words are at!

  • Stacie | January 12, 2012 9:18 AM

    I don't think you are supporting her when you boycott her show.

  • Margo | January 11, 2012 10:15 PMReply

    This is indeed good news! I've been watching the show and it would definitely be nice to see more of Taraji and learn more about who she is and her army past.

  • Neziah | January 11, 2012 10:10 PMReply

    I've watched all the episodes so far, and was surprised that the Taraji character grew and became more interesting as the series went on, as well as played a bigger role into the story. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her next season, if it's ordered.

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