CW has stake in ‘Vampire’

Series is one of five drawing early pickups

CW has given early pickups for the 2010-11 season to its frosh hotshot “The Vampire Diaries” and four other signature skeins.

Pickup of Warner Bros. TV’s “Vampire Diaries” is a no-brainer for the C-Dub given the show’s solid ratings perf and buzz factor. Also renewed for the coming season are “America’s Next Top Model” and Warner Bros. dramas “Gossip Girl,” “Supernatural” and “90210.”

Not on the list is CW mainstay “Smallville,” also from Warner Bros. TV. There was speculation that this season would be the last for the 9-year-old drama, but all signs suggest the show will keep going for a 10th season in 2010-11. Another CW longtimer, “One Tree Hill,” also has a better-than-50/50 shot at returning for an eighth season.

A question mark on the CW’s current sked is “Melrose Place,” the Tuesday companion to “90210” that struggled in its run earlier in the season. The show has been off the air since early December and is set to return March 9, when it will face tough competish on Tuesday from “American Idol.”

The jury is also still out on midseason entry “Life Unexpected,” which has drawn kind words from crix but sluggish ratings to date in the Monday 9 p.m. berth behind “One Tree Hill.”

“Vampire Diaries” has been the clear standout for CW this season. The skein that gives CW a piece of the undead zeitgeist stirred up by the “Twilight” pics and HBO’s “True Blood” ranks as the net’s top show in its target demo of adults 18-34 (2.5 rating/8 share). It’s averaged a strong 4.6 million viewers in the competitive Thursday 8 p.m. berth.

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