The CW Chief on 'Supergirl's' Move, DC Crossover Plans and the Future of 'Vampire Diaries'

Mark Pedowitz also discussed 'Riverdale's' promise and the downside of reducing ad loads during a pre-upfront call with reporters.
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Mark Pedowitz

Mere hours before his formal presentation, CW president Mark Pedowitz gave his upfront pitch a quick test run with reporters.

During that time, the network chief unveiled the strategy behind a schedule that opens four nights with DC Comics fare, including Greg Berlanti-produced stalwarts Arrow and The Flash. Included in that discussion was an explanation of why he snatched Supergirl from corporate cousin CBS' schedule, with Pedowitz noting his network is "where it should have been in the first place."

To date, the genre fare — a departure from the Gossip Girl-style series that preceded him at The CW — has largely paid off. Though Pedowitz's younger-skewing network still places a distant fifth, it has managed to remain steady in the 18-49 demo and nab both awards (Jane the Virgin) and ratings records (The Flash).

Here are the highlights from Pedowitz's time with the press.

The Supergirl Move Came Easy

To hear Pedowitz tell it, having Supergirl move to The CW was a no-brainer. The ball began rolling on that a week and a half earlier, he said, and he’s confident that his network is the right home for the DC series. Unlike CBS, which has long been light on genre, his viewers are increasingly familiar with superhero fare. And yes, there will be another DC crossover later this fall; and he stressed it will be the network’s biggest yet. In the next week or two, Pedowtiz said he’ll sit down with Berlanti and his creative team to discuss plans for the forthcoming season, but he doesn’t anticipate any major tonal shifts to the series now that it’s on The CW.

So, how will it do? And who’s returning with it?

Although he’s loathe to make ratings predictions, Pedowitz did suggest it could lose some of its CBS audience while still becoming a top three performer for his network. With the move — both to a new network and to a new shooting locale (Vancouver, via Los Angeles) — come questions about Calista Flockhart’s future with the series. Pedowitz noted that conversations on that subject were ongoing, and he was thrilled to hear that the Ally McBeal star wants to return, whether that be as a regular or as a recurring character. He added, “We’re happy to have her in whatever capacity that works out.”

Reducing Ad Loads? No, Thanks

The mounting enthusiasm around reducing ad loads ended with Pedowitz, who suggested doing so could have a negative impact on your other shows — and more broadly, the network’s economics. While he acknowledged that The CW had discussed the possibility in a bid to improve the viewer experience, there are no current plans to employ the strategy that’s been touted by Turner, Nat Geo, Vice and other nets in recent months. When asked to clarify, he pointed to Fox’s Fringe by way of example, noting that that short-lived experiment did not work. “Not every show can take a smaller commercial load,” he explained. “Advertisers will push back.”

Other Odds and Ends

Pedowitz had little interest in calling the forthcoming season of The Vampire Diaries the series’ last. In fact, he said his “dream” is that the Julie Plec/Kevin Williamson series would continue for additional seasons, but “you never know." As for another attempt at a Supernatural spinoff, The CW boss said he was always open to hearing the pitch. And finally, he’s confident that his network’s live-action take on the Archie comics with midseason series Riverdale (also from Berlanti) should succeed where others haven’t because it’s a more “layered,” “adult” take on the comics franchise. “It is basically secrets of a small town,” he said, “and we’re going to show it that way.”

Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new series pickups with THR's handy scorecard and follow the pilot crop status here. For full upfronts 2016 coverage, go to THR.com/upfronts.

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