CW Boss on "Next Generation" of DC Shows, Future of 'All American'

Mark Pedowitz, broadcast's longest-tenured network president, also discussed his network's performance on its new night, Sunday.
Courtesy of The CW
The CW president Mark Pedowitz

Fresh off renewing the bulk of his scripted lineup for the 2019-2020 season, The CW president Mark Pedowitz became the first broadcast executive to take the stage during his network's time Thursday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

Pedowitz, currently the longest-tenured exec running a broadcast network, fielded his usual questions — Supernatural will run as long as stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles want to do it — and addressed the future of the DC universe on his network and more during his half-hour before the press. Here are the highlights.

DC's Future at The CW

With all five DC Comics-inspired dramas already renewed for next season and its Ruby Rose-led Batwoman pilot fully expected to go to series, Pedowitz still believes there's room for more. "We haven't hit that saturation point," he said, noting that the network has yet to decide if all six dramas would be on the air concurrently. With Arrow renewed for its eighth season, Pedowitz is aware that some of the Greg Berlanti-produced DC shows are starting to show signs of age. "Things will age and we want to get the next generation of shows to keep The CW DC universe going for as long as possible," he said. Decisions about final seasons of any of The CW's fare — including Arrow — will likely come around May's upfront presentations to ad buyers. Looking ahead, Pedowitz previewed that the next DC crossover will be the "biggest and most complicated" one the shows have done thus far. Speaking with reporters after his time onstage, the exec said it's highly likely that the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover would feature a character death — which may be a remix of its comic book source material.

But What About the DC Universe Streaming Service?

DC corporate parent Warner Bros. TV last year launched its SVOD platform DC Universe, which comes with its own slate of Berlanti-produced scripted series. Pedowitz stressed that much like the DC film world and The CW's fare, both his network and the DC platform universes remain separate. "I'll know," Pedowitz deadpanned when asked if his network was developing something that the DCU platform had in the works.

Bubble Show Update

Left off of the network's 10-show renewal list was the Berlanti-produced fall freshman football drama All American. Pedowitz noted he believes in the show's creative and is "proud" of the drama and its storytelling — "It's up there with Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" — and hopes its bow on Netflix at the end of March will goose its ratings and digital performance. The CW has seen the Netflix bump first-hand with series including Riverdale, Jane and The Flash all experiencing season-over-season growth after previous seasons hit the streamer. "It doesn't happen for every show," the exec acknowledged, "but we're hopeful it happens here." All 16 of the show's produced episodes will air as planned. Meanwhile, The 100 debuts its seventh season in April, and its showrunner has already pitched a potential eighth season. Decisions on the midseason entry Roswell, New Mexico and the summer player In the Dark will be made later.

Will The CW Remain a Netflix Supplier?

Speaking of streamers, Pedowitz was asked about his network's future as a Netflix supplier given that his parent companies — CBS and AT&T — each have direct-to-consumer platforms in CBS All Access and the forthcoming WarnerMedia service. "No real discussions have occurred — the parent companies will sort it out themselves," he said, touting The CW's digital prowess. "We've managed to go into the ad VOD space better than anybody else," Pedowitz said of platforms including CWTV.com and CW Seed.

Salim Akil's Status

Pedowitz stands by Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil, who faces a domestic violence lawsuit and allegations of plagiarism (for OWN's since-canceled drama Love Is). "Salim has a personal issue," said the exec. "[Black Lightning producers] Warners did an investigation … and no wrongdoing was found. This is nothing to do with the show. The show, Salim, the producers, cast, crew — they deserve to work."

Building Out the Riverdale World

After letting Chilling Adventures of Sabrina move to Netflix, The CW is launching a second show in the Riverdale franchise with pilot Katy Keene. The potential series takes place years after the current adventures of the students of Riverdale High School, and there are no plans to see both shows crossover. "If anyone from Riverdale were to come to Katy, they'd come as their older self," Pedowitz said.  

Sunday Funday

The CW launched its sixth night of originals this season on Sundays, and Pedowitz is pleased with the network's performance on the night. (Both Supergirl and Charmed air on the night and were among the shows renewed Thursday.) Pedowitz called Sundays a "success" for the networks and said affiliates had seen big growth in the adults 18-49 demo on the night. "It's been a winner across the board," he said. There currently are no plans to expand beyond the two-hour block, though that doesn't mean the exec doesn't have ideas: "There's possibilities, we've proven we can do it. We just need the right programming."