CBS Chief Glenn Geller Won’t Return Following Heart Attack

Longtime network scheduler Kelly Kahl will take his place as Entertainment president

Two months ago, Glenn Geller said he expected to return to work in late May, after his medical leave. Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller, who had been sidelined for the past two months after suffering a heart attack, won’t return to the network as planned, and will be stepping down from his role, CBS Corp. announced today.

UPDATE: The network has promoted Kelly Kahl, formerly senior evp of CBS Primetime and the network’s longtime scheduler, to replace him as CBS Entertainment president. Thom Sherman, evp in charge of development at CBS’ sister network, The CW, will become Kahl’s No. 2, as senior evp, programming.

CBS said Geller made the decision to step down from his role, and is in talks with the company for a production deal with CBS Television Studios.

Kelly Kahl (right) will replace Geller, with Thom Sherman (left) as his No. 2.

Two months ago, the network said that Geller had suffered a mild heart attack and would be taking a leave of absence until the end of May, after the upfront, to recuperate.

“While it will be very strange not being in the trenches with you during this crazy time of year, I have all the confidence in you—our creative teams and talented executives—shepherding our terrific pilots,” Geller said in a memo to his staff. “I know you will all carry the CBS flag to Carnegie Hall with distinction. I’ll be watching with pride.”

Last month, the network told Adweek that Geller was still on track to return to the job at the end of May, as had been the plan.

During the network’s pre-upfront press breakfast two weeks ago, CBS Corp CEO and chairman Leslie Moonves told reporters that Geller was “doing better,” and that in his absence during development season, “our development people really stepped up to the plate.”

At CBS’ Carnegie Hall presentation later that day, Moonves told buyers that Geller was “on the road to a full recovery.” In Geller’s absence, Kahl made his Carnegie Hall debut at the upfront and presented the network’s new schedule to buyers.

Geller was tapped in September 2015 to replace then-CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler, who departed in late 2015 after 11 years running the network.

While CBS finished the 2016-17 TV season, which ended last week, No. 1 in total viewers for the ninth straight year, the network fell from first to third in the 18-49 demo race (the network broadcast the Super Bowl the previous year). The network’s big fall hopes include its Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon, and a pair of action dramas: S.W.A.T., starring Criminal Minds alum Shemar Moore and Seal Team, starring David Boreanaz.

Geller’s departure isn’t expected to affect upfront negotiations, which are now underway.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.