CW: Post-merger, Dawn fawns over new challenges

A year ago, the CW network was barely a glimmer in the eyes of its corporate parents. Now the new net’s just a few weeks away from making its debut in front of millions, launching right in the middle of one of the most change-packed TV seasons in years.

“Things have been kind of crazy,” admits CW prexy Dawn Ostroff, who’s had to build one network at the same time she helped lay to rest UPN.

The good news for Ostroff: Almost all of her sked consists of proven success stories. Unlike Fox, UPN or WB — which blasted off with almost entirely new programming — the CW relies heavily on the greatest hits of the WB and UPN.

“This was a programmer’s dream come true,” Ostroff says.

That doesn’t mean the CW doesn’t face plenty of potential headaches.

Viewers accustomed to watching UPN or WB shows on one channel will now have to find their faves elsewhere. So instead of focusing all its energies on promoting new shows, the CW is spending some serious change simply letting auds know what it is and where they can find it.

“We did a lot of research, and the truth is (viewers) need to know it’s a new network and a new channel,” Ostroff says. “They have to know there’s a new place to find their favorite shows.”

Some big shows are also moving nights, most notably the old UPN Monday night comedy block. It’s now on Sundays opposite tough competish such as “The Simpsons” and NBC’s new football package.

But the new CW sked also offers some intriguing program combos. Low-rated critical darling “Veronica Mars” now gets a perfect lead-in with “Gilmore Girls,” and UPN hit “America’s Next Top Model” is a sudsy natural leading into “One Tree Hill.”

“Now that these series are no longer competing for the same viewers, there’s no question they will perform better together than they did apart,” Ostroff argues.

The real question, though, is whether the CW will perform better by itself than UPN or the WB did as rivals.


When: 9, Mondays
Exec producers: Darren Star, Ed Zuckerman
The plot: Donnie Wahlberg and Leslie Hope take their family on the run to escape punishment for a crime Wahlberg’s character didn’t commit.
What works: Good cast and great concept.
What doesn’t: Yes, it’s a family show, but “7th Heaven” seems like an odd lead-in.
Bottom line: As CW’s only newly launched drama, it should get some time to find success.

When: 8:30, Sundays
Exec producers: Mara Brock-Ali, Kelsey Grammer, Steve Stark
The plot: A “Girlfriends” spinoff that’s like a half-hour version of BBC America’s “Footballers Wives” — sans all the sex and suds.
What works: It makes all the sense in the world to extend the “Girlfriends” franchise.
What doesn’t: Why couldn’t the CW take a bit of a chance when greenlighting its first comedy?
Bottom line: It’ll do OK, which is all it needs to do.


Premiere: Sept. 25 (season 11)
Timeslot: 8, Mondays
Cast changes: David Gallagher and Mackenzie Rosman exit.
Storyline: Eric Camden will learn he has a fatal heart condition and less than a year to live.

Premiere: Oct. 1 (season 4)
Timeslot: 7:30, Sundays
Cast changes: None.
Storyline: Robert and Neesee’s attempts to move on lead them to try an even more complicated living arrangement.

Premiere: Sept. 20 (cycle 70)
Timeslot: 8, Wednesdays
Cast changes: None.
Storyline: Tyra Banks gives 13 women an opportunity to prove they can make it in the high-stress, high-stakes world of supermodeling.

Premiere: Oct. 1 (season 2)
Timeslot: 7, Sundays (new)
Cast changes: None.
Storyline: Chris runs for class president and gets a job.

Premiere: Sept. 26 (season 7)
Timeslot: 8, Tuesdays
Cast changes: None.
Storyline: Lorelai must deal with the aftermath of her breakup with Luke and the night she spent with Christopher, while Rory adjusts to a long-distance relationship with Logan.

Premiere: Oct. 1 (season 7)
Timeslot: 8, Sundays (new)
Cast changes: Jill Marie Jones exits.
Storyline: An exploration of the hot-button issues about family, friends, relationships and life facing women today.

Premiere: Sept. 27 (season 4)
Timeslot: 9, Wednesdays
Cast changes: Danneel Harris and Lee Norris have joined as regulars.
Storyline: Will the end of high school also mean an end to the relationships forged over the last few years, or the beginning of new alliances?

Premiere: Sept. 28 (season 6)
Timeslot: 8, Tuesdays
Cast changes: John Schneider exits. Aaron Ashmore and Justin Hartley join in recurring roles.
Storyline: Two new DC characters arrive in Smallville this season; one is forming a league of superheroes and wants Clark to join.

Premiere: Sept. 28 (season 2)
Timeslot: 9, Tuesdays
Cast changes: None.
Storyline: Sam must decipher what was meant when, during their last confrontation, the demon said he had plans for Sam and “all the children like him.”

Premiere: Oct. 3 (season 3)
Timeslot: 9, Tuesdays (new)
Cast changes: Tina Majorino, Julie Gonzalo and Chris Lowell have joined as regulars.
Storyline: In between the beer-soaked dorm parties and all-night cram sessions, the student body is facing a terrifying threat.

— returning show capsules compiled by Paula Hendrickson

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Scene News from Variety