TV Upfronts: CW Will Not Revisit 'Selection'; Eyes Comedy

Issue 16 BIZ Mark Pedowitz Executive Suite - H 2012

Issue 16 BIZ Mark Pedowitz Executive Suite - H 2012

If the summer reboot of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" works, said CW president Mark Pedowitz, the net will develop more comedy.

The broadcast networks presented schedules heavy on fantasy and high-concept fare at their annual upfront presentations in Manhattan this week. And The CW -- the final broadcast network to present its new fall wares to media buyers -- was no exception. The network of The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural will bow three new dramas in the fall. Two of them, The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals and Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec's The Tomorrow People, are fantasy dramas and the third, Reign, is a 14th century costume epic about the early reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Executives say the trend is a necessity in a cluttered media environment where broadcast networks no longer enjoy the dominance they once did.

“You have to make noise. And it's very hard these days to make noise with a bunch of smaller, softer shows,” noted CW president Mark Pedowitz during a post-presentation discussion with reporters.

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CW executives are banking on Originals -- which will air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. leading into Supernatural -- to become another break out hit for the network. “We believe it can elevate a key night on our schedule,” said Pedowitz. Arrow helped boost Supernatural in its eighth season and execs believe Originals has enough buzz and familiarity among fans of the network's highest-rated show to hold its own in the lead-off slot.

And once again, CW will undertake an October launch for its fall season. The strategy kept CW's shows away from the noisy mid-September premieres of the broadcast Big Four and kept reruns to a minimum. “It worked for us,” noted Pedowitz. “It allowed us to market our shows away from everybody. And it makes our schedule tighter and we need to do that.”

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Of course one show that will not be on the CW schedule come fall is The Selection. The Hunger Games-esque drama has been in development since 2011; the second pricey pilot was shot in Hungary. Pedowitz said he “loved the pilot." But after two development cycles featuring retooled scripts and casts, the network is “unlikely to revisit it” again. But he is definitely interested making Wonder Woman prequel Amazon work. The pilot did not receive an order this season, but the project is in redevelopment with new writer Aron Eli Coleite, who has worked on Heroes and The River.

Pedowitz is also looking to broaden The CW's brand to comedy and will use the summer reboot of Whose Line is it Anyway? as a litmus test for the CW viewers' appetite for comedic television. “One of the strategies in bringing back Whose Line was to get the audience familiar with us for comedy. If Whose Line line works, we will definitely do more comedy."