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The CW is pushing forward with its new series orders for whatever the 2020-21 broadcast season will look like.
The younger-skewing broadcaster has picked up the dramas Kung Fu and Republic of Sarah to series, bringing its new show tally to four for the forthcoming season. The network, a joint venture between CBS TV Studios and Warner Bros. TV, continues to split its pickups evenly between the two studios as Republic of Sarah comes from the former, while Kung Fu hails from the latter.
The CW’s fellow pilots The Lost Boys and Maverick will be rolled to next season, sources say. Meanwhile, the futures of the prequel to The 100 and the female-fronted Arrow spinoff — which both aired during their respective flagship series — are yet to be determined.
The CW is expected to unveil its fall schedule on Thursday, when the network was poised to present its new and returning series to Madison Avenue ad buyers in its since-canceled upfront presentation. It’s unclear how The CW will tackle a schedule that is almost completely reliant on scripted originals given that there has been no indication for precisely how or when production can resume amid the novel coronavirus. Many in the industry were anticipating a July start date for new and returning series, which would have made the traditional September launch a challenge. Film and TV production has been shut down since mid-March.
To that end, The CW this week acquired four scripted series — CBS All Access’ Tell Me a Story and DC Universe’s Swamp Thing, as well as two foreign pickups — in a bid to have some completed originals on its schedule. A decision on when those will air will likely come Thursday. With 13 returning shows, four new series and a slew of acquisitions, The CW could be setting itself up to have scripted originals for all of 2021, a push that network president Mark Pedowitz has been ramping up over the past few seasons.
Kung Fu and Republic of Sarah join straight-to-series pickups Superman & Lois and Walker on the network’s schedule. While neither Kung Fu nor Republic of Sarah were able to complete much of their pilot production, their pickups were based on the strength of their scripts.
Kung Fu is from executive producer Greg Berlanti and is inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman. Olivia Liang stars in the series, which revolves around a young Chinese American woman who drops out of college and goes on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, she uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice … all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her.
Christina M. Kim penned the script and exec produces the series alongside Blindspot’s Martin Gero and Berlanti Productions’ Berlanti and Sarah Schechter and David Madden. Hanelle Culpepper directed the pilot. Kheng Hua Tan, Shannon Dang, Jon Prasida, Eddie Liu, Gavin Stenhouse, Gwendoline Yeo and Tzi Ma round out the cast.
Berlanti could now exec produce 10 series on The CW, with Kung Fu joining fellow rookie Superman & Lois and returning series Batwoman, The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale and All American, with Katy Keene remaining on the bubble but potentially also returning. (Berlanti bid farewell to network staple Arrow this past season.) All told, Berlanti’s scripted TV empire now sits at 21 series — currently off one from a year ago after CBS canceled the sophomore drama God Friended Me.
Republic of Sarah, meanwhile, lands a slot on The CW’s schedule after the title was redeveloped from last season. Last year’s writer, Jeffrey Paul King (Elementary), also penned the new take, but this time, the action revolves around a high school teacher who, faced with the destruction of her town at the hands of a greedy mining company, utilizes an obscure cartographical loophole to declare independence and lead a young group of misfits as they attempt to start their own country from scratch. The same producing team — including Marc Webb and Fulwell 73’s Jeff Grosvenor — return for the CW take. Stella Baker takes over the lead role (Grey’s Anatomy alum Sarah Drew starred in last season’s take) and stars alongside Nia Holloway, Luke Mitchelle, Izabella Alvarez, Hope Lauren, Ian Duff, Forrest Goodluck, Landry Bender and Megan Follows.
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