CBS President George Cheeks: The Gates Development Is ‘Accelerated’

The Gates development is moving right along on CBS. Will it join sister soaps B&B and Y&R soon?
The Gates development is moving right along on CBS. Will it join sister soaps B&B and Y&R soon?
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The soap world has been buzzing with positive vibes in light of CBS developing The Gates, a new soap from Michele Val Jean with a Black family. In a recent interview, George Cheeks, the president and CEO of CBS and chief content officer for news and sports at Paramount+, talked candidly about The Gates (read our casting wish list here) and its future.

CBS: Opening The Gates

Asked how real introducing a new soap opera to TV, Cheeks told Josef Adalian of Vulture, “It’s super real. And just to give you a little bit of the backstory, when we hired Sheila Ducksworth to run the NAACP venture, she and I had multiple meetings talking about what different genres she was going to lean into, and we talked a lot about daytime.

“One of the things that the data made very clear to both of us is that daytime soap operas over index with Black women, and yet when you look at soap operas, it’s usually sort of a white-led family with supporting characters that reflect more of our society,” the exec adds. “So we just thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to flip that and make the core anchor family a Black family, and then make the other characters reflect more the broader scope of society?

“She found this great writer, Michele Val Jean, who’s been in the soap opera space for 30 years,” Cheeks says. “She came up with a pitch, and we loved it. We brought Procter & Gamble into it as well, because if there were going to be [product] integrations, we could do it more holistically and organically. All of that is to say, we did a lot of work on the front end to put this together. So while yes, it’s development, it’s accelerated development.”

Despite the development being on the fast track, Cheeks says he can’t say right now whether the show is going to be a half-hour or 60 minutes in length. Also, he says there’s no specific timeline for when the show will be ready to go. “[W]e want to get this right,” he says. “I mean, there hasn’t been a new soap opera launch since I can’t even begin to tell you when. But we have great success with Bold and the Beautiful and Young and the Restless, and so we think we’re the right folks to be launching a new soap. I wish I could tell you more about exact timing, but we’re so focused on getting it right, and that will dictate when we’re ready to launch it.”