TV Upfronts: CW Chief on 'Vampire Diaries' Future, DC Comics Push

Mark Pedowitz fielded questions about his scheduling choices and his thoughts on 'Supernatural's' future.
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Mark Pedowitz

The CW president Mark Pedowitz is in a position to gloat.

But before he did so for an audience of Madison Avenue buyers packed into City Center for the network’s annual upfront bazaar, Pedowitz tested both his pitch and his evolving strategy on the industry's press corps. The gist: his network has had its most-watched season in seven years, up 12 percent in total viewers, and continues to post notable gains among young men, a key goal of Pedowitz’s when he arrived four years earlier.

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“We have some momentum, we have some stability and we have a stronger schedule as we go into next season,” he said during an early call with reporters, noting that the younger-skewing network has seen its ratings rise on four of its five nights. Additionally, the network will continue to lean on its digital incubator, CW Seed, and the sales department has been flirting with the idea of live commercials as well. While Pedowitz remained coy about The CW's financials, he suggested once again that the network was serving its basic purpose: to make money for its owners, CBS and Warner Bros.

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Going forward, Pedowitz is adding only three new series, two of them from his network’s most prolific producers, Julie Plec (Containment) and Greg Berlanti (Legends of Tomorrow). The third, Super Ex-Girlfriend, made its way to him in April, after being passed over by corporate sibling Showtime. In making the shift to broadcast, the zany comedy, which will be paired with critical darling Jane the Virgin, will expand to an hour and make what Pedowitz calls “modest language changes.”

As for the remainder of the schedule, he suggested moving royal drama Reign to Fridays was both a strategic push to get it out of ABC juggernaut Scandal's way, and a recognition that Fridays would be a better fit for a slightly older-skewing show. Elsewhere, The 100 will sit out for a few months — a period in which Pedowitz hopes the post-apocalyptic drama will have its “Breaking Bad moment” on Netflix — along with new entries Containment and Legends of Tomorrow, the latter another DC Comics entry with heavy crossover potential on Arrow and Flash, the most watched show in the CW's history.

Looking ahead, Pedowitz believes there is still plenty of life left in the network's other longer-running franchises Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries. “As long as the ratings hold and the boys want to do it, we’re in,” he said of the former, a personal favorite of Pedowitz's, before acknowledging that he remains committed to making a Supernatural spinoff happen. With regard to the latter, he insists the departure of star Nina Dobrev will not spell the end for the series. He added that the drama will now focus more heavily on the two brothers, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley): “We had a show run for 11 years based on two brothers called Supernatural, so I have great confidence that this could happen the same way."

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