CW's Mark Pedowitz on Pilot Season, 'Flash' and Series' Fates

Mark Pedowitz - PR Head Shot - 2011
Cliff Lipson/CBS

CW President Mark Pedowitz is committed to pilot season.

Much like his broadcast cousin, CBS’ Nina Tassler, Pedowitz used the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday to show his commitment to the development model. The merits of pilot season have become the topic du jour ever since Fox’s Kevin Reilly used the soapbox Monday to reveal his network's plans to abandon the age-old springtime tradition. 

“It’s inefficient in some ways, and it’s efficient in others,” Pedowitz said from stage, noting that the CW has played a slightly different game than his broadcast competitors. With less real estate, he has had to order far fewer pilots and has been able to maintain a particularly high ratio when it comes to series orders. This past year, for instance, five of the younger-skewing network's seven pilots were ordered to series. (Pedowitz, who touted the potential to “learn things” from pilots, suggested he’ll have the same number of pilots this year.)

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In addition to a buzz-worthy announcement about a Veronica Mars digital spin-off, Pedowitz addressed his increasingly high-concept brand, his plans for Flash and the broadening of his network during his half hour before the press. Here are the highlights:

High-Concept Fare

Recent years have taught Pedowitz a few things about what works and what doesn't on CW's schedule. In the latter category are docuseries (summer experiment Breaking Pointe will not return) and traditional procedurals. What does? High-concept, fantasy, serialized programming, as evidenced by the success of CW series such as Arrow and Vampire Diaries. Still, he stressed that those descriptors can be broadly defined, noting that a former CW staple, Gossip Girl, could have fit into all three categories.  

Future of the Flash

Pedowitz pronounced himself "bullish" on the much-discussed The Flash project moving forward. Arrow showrunners Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns already introduced the DC Comics character Barry Allen/The Flash in Arrow's two-part winter finale, which ended with a cliffhanger for the character. Pedowitz added that "rather than try to squeeze in a spinoff" he'd like to see a Flash series launch "with a bang like we launched Arrow."

Series Fate

While Pedowitz suggested the fates of lesser-watched entries, The Carrie Diaries and Hart of Dixie, will not be decided until May, he's optimistic about a renewal for Julie Plec's The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals as well as freshman series Reign and veteran Supernatural. (As for the Supernatural spinoff in development, he confirmed that there would be a spinoff episode in the original. "For me, for spinoffs to work they have to stand on their own two legs," he added. "And you can only organically do crossovers when the time is right.")

A Broader Reach 

The network's bread-and-butter of fantasy-adventure dramas is in the sweet spot of the network's target audience of viewers 18-34, but Pedowitz and his team have made a conscious effort to bring older viewers into the tent with unscripted fare like Whose Line is it Anyway. (Another season of Whose Line will bow March 21 and run through the summer.) "It was our strategy to broaden out," Pedowitz told reporters, adding: "We are getting a fair amount of viewers who are 35+ and our affiliates are very happy with that."