CW Boss Mark Pedowitz on Fates of 'Supernatural,' 'Wonder Woman,' 'Battle Royale'
The CW president used his platform before the TCA to discuss new entry "The Carrie Diaries," his continued reality push and his ongoing frustation with Nielsen ratings.
CW president Mark Pedowitz trotted out Sunday as Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 anthem "Born in the USA" pumped through the loudspeakers.
It was part of a larger ’80s-themed morning, in which the younger-skewing network looked to peddle its midseason hopeful The Carrie Diaries, which is generating good buzz among critics far outside The CW’s demographic. As the reporter pool feasted on Pop Rocks and cans of Tab at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Pedowitz discussed the network’s larger strategy -- to broaden out its 18-34 demo -- and how his series, both on the air and in development, fit into that.
“We had a pretty good fourth quarter,” he noted, plugging The CW’s 10 percent uptick in total viewers as well as generally flat figures in both the 18-49 and 18-34 demos. As Pedowitz has done many times before, he blasted Nielsen for its inability to accurately measure the latter, a demo that doesn’t consume his shows on traditional (and thus Nielsen-measured) platforms. It is among the reasons he believes the network's median age continues to rise -- it is now at 41, which NBC entertainment chairman snidely noted earlier in the week.
Here are some of the panel's highlights, from the future of long-running Supernatural to the status of its Wonder Woman development project, Amazon:
While no decision has been made on a ninth season of the Jared Padalecki-Jensen Ackles thriller, Pedowitz said both leads are under contract for next season. "Creatively, the show is in a good place," he told reporters of a show for which he has been a big supporter, noting that he's pleased with its total-viewers increase after moving from Fridays to Wednesdays (paired with breakout Arrow) this season.
The uber-violent adaptation of the 2000 Japanese feature based on Koushun Takumi's novel is officially dead at the network. The development project, Pedowitz said, stemmed from one phone call to see if the rights to the books were available. "At this time, we're not planning to do anything with Battle Royale," he said of the story set in a dystopian future in which high school students are forced to fight one another to the death.
Amazon (Wonder Woman)
While the network has yet to order a pilot this season, there is strong buzz surrounding The CW's Wonder Woman prequel. "We're waiting to see the script, and we're busy casting Diana," the executive said from the stage. "Hopefully the script works the way we want." Pedowtiz told The Hollywood Reporter following the panel that the origin story of Diana Prince would be set in the present day -- instead of the character's original World War II-era origin -- with the network looking at both new and established actresses for the part. Pedowitz suggested that his team would continue to explore other DC properties as well.
Although the Hunger Games-esque drama pilot didn't make the cut in May, the network's redeveloped project is still in the mix this development season. "The script just came in, and it's very well done," Pedowitz said of the show based on the books by Kiera Cass. He has yet to make a decision, noting that he is hoping to have between seven and eight pilots in contention this year.
Pedowitz stopped far short of suggesting he was pleased with the state of his unscripted business, suggesting only that he intends to make one or two announcements in the coming weeks regarding new reality projects for this summer. He already has announced the addition of Hunger Games-style wilderness competition series The Hunt and dating show Perfect Score, which will join returning entries Oh Sit! and Breaking Pointe. As he has said before, the push is part of a larger plan to have year-round originals, particularly key as he looks to promote his new fall fare.
To hear Pedowitz tell it, he was disappointed that the edgy, L.A.-set ensemble was not renewed for a third season by its Canadian broadcasters. He acknowledged that he'd had conversations with the show's producers about trying to find an economically viable means to keep it alive on The CW alone but ultimately could not. He confirmed that he would continued to look at other Canadian fare.
The Carrie Diaries
The CW chief was particularly enthusiastic about midseason effort, which he describes as an "origination story." He's sincerely hoping the 1984-set story will draw in somewhat older viewers of HBO's Sex and the City as well as his more typical younger-skewing audience. While you shouldn't anticipate any Apple or Microsoft plugs, he noted that there will still be opportunities for product integration in categories such as hair care, cosmetics and cars.
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