ABC vet may join as Dawn Ostroff preps exit

Former ABC exec Mark Pedowitz is in talks to join the CW in a top exec role as the network’s parent companies prepare for the departure of entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff.

Word that Pedowitz was being recruited for a CW exec post surfaced late last week. Reps for CW and its co-owners, CBS and Warner Bros., declined comment on the matter.

Sources familiar with the situation said that one scenario under consideration was to appoint Pedowitz to a top role and give expanded programming duties to Thom Sherman, CW’s exec veep of drama. He is also an ABC alum who worked with Pedowitz at the Alphabet and during Sherman’s stint as head of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot banner.

Ostroff let it be known to her bosses some time ago that she’s ready to move on at the end of this season. The exec has been with CW and its UPN predecessor for nearly a decade. She’s been living the bicoastal life for the past few years and is eager to relocate to Gotham on a full-time basis to be with her family.

It’s understood that CBS and Warner Bros. hope to announce a new exec appointment sooner rather than later to allow for a transition period with Ostroff and to avoid uncertainty about the net’s future at its May 19 upfront and the ad sales derby to follow.

Ostroff this week is on the road making pre-upfront development presentations to major media buying agencies in Gotham and elsewhere. Sources close to the situation emphasized that for its business as usual at CW for the rest of this season as Ostroff is committed to seeing pilot season through with her team.

It’s unclear if Pedowitz would directly replace Ostroff as entertainment prexy or join in a different configuration. Pedowitz does not come from a traditional programming background, but he did oversee creative matters during his five years as head of the ABC Studios production unit.

Pedowitz has been considered a strong candidate for an exec post in the Warner Bros. firmament ever since he set up a production banner, Pine Street Entertainment, on the Burbank lot in February 2010. He’s highly regarded in the biz as a strategic thinker and an experienced exec with deep industry connections. He’s known to be tight with Warner Bros. TV Group chief Bruce Rosenblum.

Pedowitz was ABC’s business affairs chief for a decade before he was tapped in April 2004 to run the studio. During his time there, ABC Studios had a strong run with hits including “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty.” Pedowitz also had plenty of interaction with CBS brass because ABC Studios co-produced the Eye dramas “Criminal Minds,” which has become an important player for the net, and “Ghost Whisperer.” ABC Studios also fielded the offbeat drama “Reaper” for CW that was a cult-fave for viewers and an internal fave among execs.

With this range of experience, Pedowitz fills the bill of being an exec who is a known commodity to CW’s parent companies but has not been entrenched for years at CBS or Warner Bros. Although there hasn’t been much friction between the partners in their joint stewardship of CW, industry sources said there was still wariness on both sides of giving the CW post to a WB or CBS insider.

Pedowitz was eased out of ABC Studios in January 2009 amid a power play by then-ABC Entertainment prexy Stephen McPherson. Pedowitz spent a year as a strategic advisor to Disney-ABC TV Group boss Anne Sweeney before hanging out his shingle at Warner Bros. last year.

Sherman joined the CW a few months before its debut in September 2006 (when the WB Network and UPN morphed into one). He’s played a big part in the net’s scripted successes, including “Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “90210″ and “Nikita.”

Sherman worked at ABC for eight years, including five years as head of drama development, before he moved to Bad Robot from 2004-2006.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more