CW gets early start on fall season

Slate to focus on big franchises

The CW will get a jump on the competish next season, launching Sept. 1 with a fall sked that the net is touting as its most cohesive to date.

“We want to make some noise before the official season premiere,” said CW entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff, who pitched the fall sked to advertisers Tuesday evening in a tent erected outside Lincoln Center. “Launching three weeks beforehand should give us an advantage.”

Ostroff took the stage after a perf by Maroon 5. Appearing in the flesh and at times as a hologram, Ostroff delivered her short presentation over the din of cocktail-sipping, chattering media buyers.

Coming off of a difficult year in the ratings, CW is hoping to inject some life into the lineup by focusing on big franchises. Inspired by the buzz surrounding frosh success “Gossip Girl,” all three of the weblet’s fall entries were designed to have built-in aud interest. In the parlance of “Gossip Girl,” Ostroff promoted the net’s sked as “OMG TV.”

“It’s the first show we developed exclusively for the CW,” Ostroff said of “Gossip Girl.” “It’s amazing the kind of press and attention that it’s gotten. We asked, wow, do we take that building block to build other franchises? We’ll be able to create a real brand with pop-culture, buzz-worthy shows.”

In the case of new Tuesday dramas, “90210” is an update on the 1990s Fox skein – and will even include a few familiar faces from the Aaron Spelling sudser. “Surviving the Filthy Rich,” meanwhile, is based on the Alloy Entertainment book series “How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls.”

The “90210” legacy is “near and dear to people’s hearts,” Ostroff said. “The goal here is to create a whole new franchise. But the people coming back (from the original) will fit into the new franchise.”

That already includes Jennie Garth, who will reprise her role from the original series. Ostroff said other cast members from the first “90210” will be making appearances as well.

Ostroff admits that bowing two new shows on Tuesday is a risk, but with “90210” a known brand, she believes the risk is tempered.

“I do think it will get a lot of attention,” she said. “Although there’s some concern (about the Tuesday schedule), if ever you would do something like this, this is the way to do it.”

On Wednesday, new 9 p.m. reality entry “Stylista” revolves around famed glossy magazine Elle and comes from the “America’s Next Top Model” mavens Tyra Banks and Ken Mok, whose show once again kicks off the night for the net.

Beyond that, CW is stable on Monday (“Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill”) and Thursdays (“Smallville,” “Supernatural”). Net also will target a more urban crowd on Friday nights, replacing WWE’s “Friday Night Smackdown” block with comedies “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game,” along with repeats of “America’s Next Top Model.”

With “Smackdown” departing the network at the end of the summer, Ostroff touted the compatibility of the net’s Monday through Friday sked.

Then there’s Sunday. CW is outsourcing its primetime sked to indie production company Media Rights Capital, as well as its Sunday afternoon “Easy View” block.

That means MRC will be programming the 7-10 p.m. block on the night and also controls the 5-7 p.m. lineup of repeats on which CW has relied to help defray the costs of its original series.

MRC is still developing the two comedies and two dramas it has in the works for Sunday primetime. CW gave a hint at what’s in store by revealing the titles of the shows in development: comedies “Surviving Suburbia” and “Book of Murphy” from 7-8 p.m.; drama “I.M. Valentine Investigation” at 8 and “FAT City: Fugitive Apprehension Team” at 9.

CW didn’t offer any details on creative auspices or concerts. Producers Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel are believed to be involved with “Valentine.”

For midseason, CW picked up 13 more episodes of “Reaper,” a decision Ostroff said came after execs were encouraged by some of the show’s post-strike tweaks. Show will evolve next year to be more relationship-oriented and will also develop more of a mythology as opposed to the villain-of-the-week conceit.

“People are responding to the changes,” she said. “We have some new character ideas and are making the show sexier and more relationship-driven. It’s a natural progression of the show.”

ABC Primetime ScheduleCW

primetime schedule for 2008-2009

  8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00
Mon. Gossip Girl One Tree Hill  
Tue. 90210 Surviving the Filthy Rich  
Wed. America’s Next Top Model Stylista  
Thur. Smallville Supernatural  
Fri. Everybody Hates Chris The Game America’s Next Top Model  
Sun. TBD TBDl  
Bold denotes new show
“Reaper” will return as a midseason replacement
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