CW President Preaches Patience in 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' and Support for 'Vampire Diaries,' 'Originals'

Mark Pedowitz used his TCA platform to support his low-rated critical darling and address the future of DC Comics fare on his network.
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The CW president Mark Pedowitz touted what he called the network's "best schedule" in its nearly 10-year history and heaped rounds of praise on his low-rated but critically adored rookie Crazy Ex-Girlfriend during his time Sunday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

Last year "was another great growth year for The CW and the quality of the shows that have made many of your lists," Pedowitz said from the TCA stage. "We appreciate that you recognize the quality of work that our shows have done."

Despite that critical adoration (for series also including Jane the Virgin, The 100 and The Flash), The CW ranks fifth among the broadcast networks in both adults 18-49 (down 22 percent year-over-year) and total viewers (1.9 million, off 13 percent). However, Pedowitz's network, for the second year in a row, broke through at the Golden Globes with two nominations — for last year's winner Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend breakout Rachel Bloom, who is favored to win. Despite the critical love and Globe nom, musical dramedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is broadcast television's lowest-rated series by a wide margin — but Pedowitz remains committed to the show.  

"At the moment, I wish I had more optimistic statistics for measurement, but I don't," he said of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's ratings woes, adding later that he has no desire to make any creative changes in an effort to grow viewership. "We do have great faith in the show and its creators," he said. "We believe in the show, we stand by the show. … You can't beat quality like this. The fact that Rachel has been nominated along with Gina is a testament to what they've done. I wish the numbers were better. We all wish people had found the show."

Here are more highlights from Pedowitz's executive session:

Growing Crazy

While Pedowitz repeatedly expressed support for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, he didn't have a firm plan on how he intends to grow the dramedy. "This may be one of those shows that takes time and another season to allow the Netflix effect to kick in," he revealed. "We're The CW, we've defied a lot of odds. I'm comfortable thinking that Crazy Ex will defy those odds." As for the network's same-day ratings, Pedowitz just wants people to watch his programming — no matter how or when. "Our point of view is, if you missed it, come see it on VOD, on DVR on digital — just come see it and talk about it."

Confidence in The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

After moving Julie Plec-produced The Vampire Diaries and spinoff The Originals to Friday, Pedowitz noted that the futures of both shows are not tied together, should respective flagship stars Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley not sign on for another season. He expressed support for both series and stressed that the move was a bid to strengthen its Friday schedule after Thursdays became more male-skewing with The Flash/Arrow spinoff Legends of Tomorrow and The 100. "They're stand-alone shows. The move to Friday night is not a move to exile it," Pedowitz said, noting that there will be another crossover between the two this year. "This way, we think coming into midseason, we have the best schedule since I've been at The CW — and ever."

The Future of …

Asked about nearly every show on his schedule, Pedowitz expressed support for veteran Supernatural as well as sophomore drama iZombie, heaping praise on its creatives and stars — and noting that both would likely be back next season as well. He also is hopeful for a fourth season of Reign, despite the period drama's soft ratings and the recent on-screen death of its male lead, King Francis (Toby Regbo). Pedowitz praised the "richness" of stories that have spun from both Francis' death and the introduction of Queen Elizabeth. "I think it will be richer if and when we move to Scotland," he told reporters afterward, hinting at a possible season-four move.

More DC Comics Fare

Already the home to DC's Arrow, The Flash and upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow, Pedowitz wouldn't rule out a female-driven Arrow spinoff, though there are no current plans to do so. "But at this moment last year, Legends didn't really exist," he said, praising The Flash and Arrow's strong female stars. The executive noted that he'll continue to support Arrow, Flash and Legends masterminds Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, and said that if they feel it's the time to spin off a character, he'd support them. The network also announced a second season for animated DC Comics entry Vixen (whose voice star Megalyn Echikunwoke will appear on an upcoming Arrow episode). "Hopefully Vixen could spin itself out — and if not, join Legends," Pedowitz added, noting that he doesn't feel the network has maxed out on the genre. Should a fourth comic book-based series present itself, Pedowitz said he'd create a rotation to keep a specific time period going year-round, much in the same way ABC does with its Shondaland Thursday lineup. Also making news Sunday: Kevin Smith will direct a May episode of The Flash.

Half-Hour Comedy

Pedowitz will continue to use CW Seed, the network's digital platform that's home to Vixen and other properties, as an incubator for comedy as he remains committed to the half-hour format. He stressed that it's likely that one of last summer's half-hours — Significant Mother or Dates — would return for a second round.

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