Network adds six new series
A year after launching with a safe schedule of mostly returning shows, the CW is hoping to make its mark this year by adding six new series to its lineup.Heading into the weblet’s second season, CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff said she was looking for shows that would help brand the fledgling operation. “This year is about breaking new hits, and we believe we’ve got them,” said Ostroff. “Our new shows have attitude and a sense of fun, and they’re going to define this network.” As expected (Daily Variety, May 17), CW will take advantage of its two reality hits to premiere two dramas that the weblet hopes will become signature shows: “Reaper” and “Gossip Girl.” “Reaper,” a comedic drama about a slacker who discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil, will air behind “Beauty and the Geek” on Tuesday nights; sexy drama “Gossip Girl,” told from the POV of a prep school blogger, will air on Wednesdays behind “America’s Next Top Model.” A third new drama, “Life is Wild” — about a blended family that moves to South Africa — will slide into “7th Heaven’s” former Sunday home, keeping the 8 p.m. hour family-friendly. Meanwhile, new comedy “Aliens in America,” about a high school misfit who winds up pals with a foreign exchange student from Pakistan, will follow “Everybody Hates Chris” in Monday’s opening hour. Net will keep Thursday and Friday intact, with young, male-skewing dramas “Smallville” and “Supernatural” on Thursday and WWE’s “Friday Night Smackdown” the following night. “The CW has a lock on these young men as they head into the weekend,” Ostroff said. Net also continues to boost its reality supply, starting with the return of “Top Model” and “Geek” — airing simultaneously for the first time, with two cycles each — and “Pussycat Dolls Present,” set for midseason. CW opened its Thursday morning upfront presentation with a performance by the Pussycat Dolls, featuring “The Search for the Next Doll” winner Asia Nitollano. Later, lead Doll singer Nicole Scherzinger came back on stage to sing the net’s new theme song, “Get Into It CW.” Green net’s new crop of reality raised a stir with the crowd as well — including laughs from the audience at “Farmer Wants a Wife” — which is about exactly what the title says. And the catty mom-and-daughter pageant contestants seen on the upcoming alternative entry “Crowned” also had the audience chuckling. Speaking of midseason shows, Ostroff announced that “One Tree Hill” would sit on the bench until midseason, when it will air uninterrupted for the remainder of the year. The hiatus also gives the show a chance to retool: When it returns, “One Tree Hill” will fast-forward four years, passing over the characters’ college years. CW’s Web site will run an “online diary” in fall that spells out what happens in those four missing, untelevised years. Ostroff didn’t have such pleasant news for fans of “Veronica Mars,” putting the final nail in its coffin. Fans looking for their Kristen Bell fix won’t have to go far, however: She serves as narrator on “Gossip Girl.” Most unusual programming move: “CW Now,” the trendspotting newsmagazine produced by the “Extra” newsmag team (Daily Variety, March 20), landed a slot Sundays at 7 p.m. Spawned by the net’s “Content Wrap” interstitials, show is an advertiser friendly (very friendly) half-hour that promises to “incorporate brands into the fabric of the show,” according to CW’s press blurb on the show. “We’ve been exploring different ways working with advertisers,” Ostroff said. “Content wraps show how we’re trying to engage the viewers.” “CW Now” will be paired with the Internet video clip show “Online Nation.” Speaking of trends, here’s one (attention “CW Now!”): Between “Beauty and the Geek,” “Chris,” “Reaper” and “Aliens in America,” the CW appears to have embraced the pocket-protector and slide-rule demo. “Nerds are really in right now, especially with the young set,” Ostroff said.