Pilots Package: dialogue with Dawn Ostroff


The Hollywood Reporter: How has it been this year having a full development season versus last year?

Dawn Ostroff: Last season was so incredibly hard. We had the announcement of a new network and the shuttering of two networks while building another one. It was like we were building a train while it was running full speed ahead. There were so many things that demanded our attention, it was very hard to only focus on development. We also knew that we positively needed established franchise shows to help establish the network. There were too many people in the beginning who were having to change channels, everybody was changing network loyalty and changing to a new brand, the networks they loved were going away. It was such a tall order, we had to do some heavy lifting.

THR: How do you feel about your development slate overall?

Ostroff: I'm really excited about our development. We're very focused on what is of interest to 18- to 34-year-olds. What's great about what we do is that we know our audience very well. We know what they're looking for, and I think that's what allows us to be as focused as we can be.

THR: Is there anything that you're particularly excited about?

Ostroff: I'm excited about so many of our projects; it's hard to single anything out. Clearly, "Gossip Girl" has a lot of possibility; it's based on an established franchise of books, nine of which have been on the (New York) Times best-seller list, and "The O.C.'s" Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are the executive producers. We're excited about "Reaper," which has Kevin Smith directing. We're excited about "Aliens in America" and "Dash 4 Cash." But I'm excited about all of our projects. Each one has a strong singular voice, and that's so important for breaking through the clutter.

THR: Your schedule is currently comprised primarily of former WB Network and UPN shows. How many new series are you looking to add next season?

Ostroff: I don't know yet. Clearly we want the right balance of new and returning shows. … There are certain things we go into the scheduling room knowing — like "One Tree Hill" has had a lot of growth behind "America's Next Top Model," and Thursdays are even more competitive since (ABC's) "Grey's Anatomy" moved there. It's a tougher night. Obviously, "Smallville" continues to do well, and every show has seen some growth in some cases.

THR: Do you think you'll keep the Monday night comedy block?

Ostroff: It looks pretty good that we would.

THR: Anything we might see similar about your schedule next season?

Ostroff: "Top Model" really works for us, and our other reality shows are really working for us, too.

THR: Do you think you will add more reality programming next year?

Ostroff: I wouldn't be surprised if you saw a little more reality on the schedule, but it's not going to take over the schedule. It will be a balance between drama, comedy and reality for us.

THR: What will help you make your final decision about your schedule next year?

Ostroff: I think it's going to be all about the quality of the shows and believing in the series.