Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny that CBS has been talked about quite a lot in the last couple of years. First, “Jericho” got the network lots of press as a result of their decision to resurrect the show for a second season because of fan demand, then it got them even more when they canceled the show for good after it failed to win the appropriate ratings. In recent weeks, they’ve been dealing with bitter vampire fans who can’t believe that “Moonlight” managed to win the People’s Choice Award for Best New Series, only to get canceled when it, too, failed to win the ratings necessary to earn it a sophomore season. Last year, Mandy Patinkin’s abrupt decision to bail out of “Criminal Minds” was all the talk of the TCA Tour, and, now, William Petersen is leaving “C.S.I.,” which is also chat-worthy.

CBS President Nina Tassler took all comers in her Executive Session, and here are the highlights…besides that bit about “Moonlight,” of course.

* The future of “Swingtown” is ambiguous at best. “I’m very proud of the show, I love the show, everybody knows how passionate I’ve been about it,” she said. “I wish the ratings were better, but this is the life we’ve chosen for ourselves. But right now, we’re behind the show and we are proud of it.” When further questioned as to whether “proud” translated into “second season,” however, she wouldn’t commit. “We haven’t made that decision right now, but I am proud of the show. Creatively, I think they’re doing a great job.” (She also reiterated her disappointment in the ratings, which is surely not a good sign.)

* Despite much prodding, Tassler claimed to have no actor in place to fill the shoes of “Billy Petersen” in “C.S.I..” “I don’t think you replace Billy,” Tassler said, “but you sort of look at adding elements to the show that are really going to invigorate and contribute to the alchemy of the show where it is today. They’ve created a great character. He’s a doctor, a scientist who’s got a very interesting DNA that is going to inform the duality of the character. Like I said, it’s not necessarily replacing Billy, but it’s adding an element that is going to sort of inform the dynamic of the team today. What I know of him so far…Carol (Mendelsohn) and Naren (Shankar) are still working on him…is that he is an outsider coming into the CSI unit. When Gil Grissom leaves, he’s the head of the unit, (but) this character doesn’t come in at the beginning as the head of the unit. He comes in a little bit as an outsider, someone who is ultimately going to work his way up within the team and ultimately become the head of the unit. But he has an interesting genetic profile that, in certain sort of medical contexts, they’ve noticed that many times serial killers have that same genetic profile. And this gentleman knows this about himself and is sort of in this journey and to discover who his true character will ultimately become.” The gentleman in question, however, has not yet been cast, and if there’s anyone under discussion, his name did not leak out during the course of the panel.

* Disappointingly, “Harper’s Island,” the new thriller series starring Bill Pullman, is not scheduled to debut ’til mid-season. (Okay, granted, it’s probably not any better than your average slasher flick, since that’s clearly what it resembles, but I was still entertained by the teaser reel they sent us.)

* There is no controversy over the omission of Jay Mohr’s new sitcom, “Gary Unmarried,” from the panels. “Jay is re-taking his vows with his wife and her entire family on the other side of the world someplace,” Tassler explained. “He planned this about a year ago, and he flew over his in-laws and his whole family, so that’s why he’s not here right now.”

* Sophina Brown has joined the cast of “Numb3rs,” and Rocky Carroll has become a regular on “NCIS.”

* Despite doing relatively well on CBS this summer, there are no plans to continue re-running “Dexter” on CBS.

* There are six more episodes of “Password” being filmed, but there is no concrete time-frame as to when they will air. There is no word on the return of “Power of 10,” though CBS apparently reserves the right to bring it back. (At the very least, Tassler never said it was canceled.)

* There will also be more Hallmark movies aired on the network, though no specifics were offered.

* Despite rumors to contrary, there is no plan for an overhaul of “The Price Is Right.” “We are very respectful of the brand and the integrity of that show,” Tassler assured us, “and probably about a year, two years before Bob finally stepped down, there was a multiyear strategy to perhaps put a fresh coat of paint on some of the games that hadn’t been touched in years. As you’ve seen, the sets have been refurbished, but certainly respectful of what those doors looked like, what the lights looked like, but this is all basically it was a plan that was put in place years before Bob left just to sort of make some minor adjustments to the show.”

* Tassler revealed that Sarah Chalke will be doing multiple episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” this year (hey, maybe Bill Lawrence was right!) and that Jason Alexander and Luke Perry would be turning up on “Criminal Minds.”

* As to the problems with “Two and a Half Men” becoming “Three Men,” Tassler says, “You’re going to see Angus is going to be going through typical teen things. I mean, he’s 14. So it opens up a whole new treasure trove of stories. Charlie’s got a whole host of issues that he has to deal with in terms of having a teenager in the house, so it forms a great season of new storytelling for them on the show.”

* “Flashpoint” may return. Or it may not. “Like I said, we’re in the ratings game,” said Tassler, “and if they do well, it’s certainly something for us to consider.”

And that’s the end. From there, we move into…

Worst Week: Hey, kids, who wants another American adaptation of a British sitcom? Because, y’know, now that “The Office” has survived the adaptation process successfully – like, to the point where it’s one of the biggest shows in the U.S. – everybody’s figured out how to avoid all the mistakes they could possibly make during the transition process, right?

Well, maybe so, if “Worst Week” is any indication.

The original UK series was entitled “The Worst Week of My Life,” and it lasted for two seasons…the first covering the wedding of a young couple and all the horrific things that befall the poor groom, the second tackling their first child…as well as a three-part Christmas special, appropriately entitled “The Worst Christmas of My Life.” Fox originally tried to adapt the show for American audiences, but the pilot wasn’t picked up. Now, CBS has taken a stab at it, and if I had to guess why this one took off while the other one sank like a stone, I’d guess it’s because the producer of “Worst Week,” Matt Tarses, once worked with Sarah Alexander, star of “The Worst Week of My Life,” in a short-lived (but very funny) series called “Teachers.” Maybe that has absolutely nothing to do with it, but I’d have to guess that Tarses almost certainly checked in with Alexander to get her thoughts about the pilot.

Having seen the pilot myself, I can tell you that there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that it’s hilarious. The bad news is that it flies by at such a frantic slapstick pace that it’s hard to conceive that they’ll be able to keep up this pace. When asked this question point blank, Tarses’ face crumpled and he said, “We can’t maintain that.”

He was kidding…probably.

“I think the goal is to try to maintain that,” said Tarses. “I mean, we’ve been working really hard at it. That’s what the show is. A friend of mine asked me, ‘Well, he’s not going to step in it every week, is he?’ And the answer is, ‘Absolutely, yeah, he is.’ I mean, that’s what we’re going to do or we’re going to set out to do, and the trick will be figuring out ways to keep it fresh and keep it surprising and interesting.”

For me, the best part of the show is seeing Kurtwood Smith again…and, even better, as a grumpy dad again! As Red Foreman on “That ’70s Show,” Smith played one of the best dads in TV history, and I say that without any intention of being hyperbolic. He really was that good. As far as why he keeps ending up in roles like these, Smith says, “I think some of it has to do with the authoritarian image I have from the past, because of a variety of roles that I’ve played before I started doing television comedy. I was always killing and maiming people. I think that sort of sits in the back of people’s minds so that they’re always feeling, ‘Well, no matter how nice he is, he must just kill the guy.’ I think he’s quite different than Red. He fills the same function obviously, but this gentleman’s a judge. He comes from a whole different background. Red was much more of a sort of closer to a blue collar conservative, and this guy’s a whole different deal. He does work in the same way, but he has much more of an acid wit.”

Playing Smith’s wife in the series is Nancy Lenehan, best known for playing Earl Hickey’s mom on “My Name Is Earl,” and, ironically, she was Smith’s pick to play the part…even though he didn’t even know she was in the running.

“When I read the script,” said Smith, “I didn’t know who was being considered for the wife, and I asked somebody at the time, and it was not somebody in the production, but they said, ‘Well, they’re considering this person and this person.’ I said, ‘You know who would be just perfect for this? Nancy Lenehan.’ And the next day he called me back and said, ‘Did you say Nancy Lenehan?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘She got the part.’ And I was so excited. Nancy’s terrifically easy to work with and very, very funny. She makes me laugh.”

Yes, but how does she stack up to your “That ’70s Show” co-star, Debra Jo Rupp?

“Well, Debra Jo Rupp is a mean, spiteful woman,” began Smith. “Impossible to get along with.”

And then he grinned.

“No, Debra Jo’s great,” he assured us. “They’re different people. They’re both very talented, and they approach their comedy in different ways, as all actors do. All actors, I think, work a little differently. I think Debra Jo’s, for me, very easy to work with — I worked with her for eight years, she’s one of my closest friends — but she is very…you know, everything has to be in its right place. And Nancy’s a little bit more laid back, and…it’s just different. I’m not extolling one over the other. I’m very fortunate. Here’s the big thing: they both make me funny. That’s what’s important.”

It sure is.

The Eleventh Hour: Wow, two British series adaptations back to back? Is this coincidence? Surely not. I’m chagrined to admit that I haven’t seen the original version of “The Eleventh Hour,” even though it stars Patrick Stewart and has gotten a lot of raves from people who enjoy a cracking good sci-fi drama…but, wait, is this really science fiction?

“It’s a science-fact show,” corrects producer Ethan Reiff. “The show is filled with science, but it’s science that surrounds us every day of our lives already. It’s the science that’s going to be the subject of at least one front-page story in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal every day. I think if you look around, probably, if not every one of us, then every other one of us, our lives have been directly touched in one form or another over the last decade by endless cutting-edge breakthroughs in genetics, in biochemistry, and miniaturization and nanotechnology. Speaking for myself, I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic, and the insulin that keeps me alive now is manufactured by genetically engineered bacteria. So that’s where this show lives and breathes: the science that’s really here. And we think that’s really cool.”

Taking on the Stewart role is Rufus Sewell, who – at least in my mind – earned permanent awesomeness by starring in “Dark City.” Sewell had not actually seen the original series, but he’s not overly concerned about any possible comparisons between himself and the man who previously filled his role. “For me, the fact that they’re casting me as opposed to Patrick Stewart means I don’t need to worry about trying to be like Patrick Stewart,” said Sewell, “because, obviously, you’d get Patrick Stewart if that’s what you wanted. So I wasn’t worried about trying to match that, but rather, then, just trying to do it the way *I* would do it, because presumably that’s why they’ve come to me.”

But why are you playing the role with an American accent?

“Because he’s American.”

Why couldn’t he be British?

“Because I don’t want to play a British character for a long period of time which people will assume is me,” explained Sewell. “He’s not me. He’s got better lighting and he’s much, much smarter. But for me, the idea of playing a character in a long-running American series…I like to play characters, whatever hook I can get into them. I love doing accents, for example, whatever, just things that make me someone else. And Jacob Hood, having a distinct American voice, takes me into a different register. It makes me feel like someone else. Also, I want to continue with my film career, my theater career. All I need to do is turn up and do an interview in my own voice and I’m obviously not him and I think that’s quite important. You know, people say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ Why wouldn’t I? I mean, I read the character. He’s American. If he was Czech, French, or whatever, that’s the character. It’s not the idea of trying to make him more like me; it’s trying to make me more like him.”

By the way, “The Eleventh Hour” is a Jerry Bruckheimer production. This isn’t always an instant guarantee of a long-running series (“Close to Home” was shut down after only two years, for instance), but it certainly bodes well for a show that’ll be eye-catching.

“Jerry wanted to have a meeting with us because it turned out he was a fan of ‘Sleeper Cell,'” said Reiff, “and, obviously, we felt terrific about the idea that Jerry was a fan, and we went in and we had a meeting with him. We got along pretty well with him, and he seemed to really like the idea of being in business with us and we went out and we made a deal with Warner Bros. Television — Bruckheimer Television deals are at Warner Bros. Television now — and it just seemed like the next natural thing was come up with something we could all work on together and that’s what we did.

“The biggest element that he adds,” clarified Reiff, “is something that’s invisible to all of you guys, because you don’t get involved in this process until the people on our side have already climbed over that Mount Everest, which is getting on the air. If Jerry Bruckheimer is attached to a project as one of the executive producers and it’s being done under the aegis of Bruckheimer Television, there’s a very, very, very, very good chance that it’s going to get on the air.”

“Also,” added Cyrus Voris, “I think Jerry has tremendous taste, and what helps is that people want to work with Jerry, so you’re able to get Rufus Sewell to commit to your show. You’re able to get certain writers and directors to come work with you because of Jerry’s name value and, you know, what’s great is Jerry is sort of like the 400-pound gorilla you have on the show working for you behind the scenes. You know if there’s any crises or any real problems that get out of your control at some point, you can always touch base with the Bruckheimer folks and say, ‘Can Jerry help us out here? Does Jerry know somebody? Can Jerry make a phone call?'”

The bigger question, though, is, “Can Jerry keep ‘The Eleventh Hour’ on the air?” We shall keep our fingers crossed. As it stands, we still haven’t seen a full-length episode, but what we have seen is tantalizing.