CW President Open to Another 'Jane the Virgin' Spinoff

Mark Pedowitz, in his pre-upfronts with the press, also weighed in on the expiration of the network's Netflix output deal.
Tyler Golden/The CW

In keeping with tradition, The CW president Mark Pedowitz kicked off the final day of upfronts Thursday with a breezy, 15-minute press call in which he addressed the loss of its Netflix output deal and future for the Jane the Virgin franchise.

Pedowitz downplayed the loss of the Netflix pact — which saw the streaming behemoth automatically begin airing new seasons of CW fare a week after their conclusion on the linear network. He noted that the network's strategy — focusing on well-known IP and patience with originals — would not change. While Netflix streaming deals have helped audiences find CW originals — Riverdale grew north of 30 percent between seasons one and two thanks to younger viewers finding it on Netflix — Pedowitz was confident in the younger-skewing broadcaster's strong brand awareness to provide value.

"We have a strong brand, and it was up to our studio partners [co-owners Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios] to decide where programming goes. The CW is a vital part of their ecosystem. We end up as a platform making shows popular and increasing in value. … But in terms of how we program and strategize, there's no change whatsoever," he said.

This season, The CW has three new series, all of them based on IP: DC Comics' Batwoman, starring Ruby Rose; Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene; and midseason play Nancy Drew, from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, Dynasty). Batwoman, insiders note, may be earmarked for WarnerMedia's forthcoming streaming service, while Katy Keene and Nancy Drew — the latter of which Pedowitz said is similar in tone to Riverdale — are currently in the marketplace for early SVOD deals. Early streaming deals help networks and studios off-set costs and, in many cases, move into the profit column ahead of a premiere.

Speaking of streaming, Pedowitz reiterated The CW's digital prowess, calling the network the "original multiplatform network" with all originals available free on The CW's website and CW Seed. As for whether the network's Warner Bros. TV-produced programming (like its DC Comics series) would wind up on the WarnerMedia platform, Pedowitz noted it was too early to comment on what those plans may or may not be, though its current digital strategy remains in place for the time being.

The CW renewed a record 14 originals and added three rookies, so the network now has 12 hours of scripted across six nights — a schedule, Pedowitz pointed out, that no other network can claim. As Pedowitz continues to build toward year-round programming — Katy Keene, Legends of Tomorrow, Roswell, In the Dark and The 100 are on the bench to start the season — the executives stressed that an impressive 70 percent of its current schedule comprises originals.

Pedowitz was also asked about the future of Jane the Virgin after The CW passed on its anthology-like spinoff from creator Jennie Snyder Urman and star Gina Rodriguez. He noted that the spinoff "didn't have the quirkiness and fun" of the flagship and that he remains open to another take.

"We're big fans of Jennie and Gina and have a great appreciation for what they did. In this situation, this spinoff didn't quite get where we needed it to get to. I reached out to Jennie and said if she wishes, we're interested in pursuing another spinoff for Jane. The ball is in Jennie's court, but for now, this project didn't have what Jane had."

Elsewhere on the pilot front is Glamorous, about a gender-nonconforming recent high school grad who lands his dream job. Pedowitz said the dramedy from exec producer Damon Wayans Jr. is being retooled and a decision should arrive after the upfronts. He has high hopes for star Ben J. Pierce too. "We love its uniqueness and original concept," he said. "Ben J. Pierce is a talent we'd like to keep."

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