The CW is looking to broaden its schedule with comedies, superheroes and series with closed-ended episodes under the leadership of newly appointed prexy Mark Pedowitz, who gave his outlook for the network at the TCA press tour on Thursday.
He admitted that he envied some of the half-hours ordered by rival broadcasters that would have appealed to CW’s core female-skewing 18-34 audience, naming CBS’ “2 Broke Girls,” ABC’s “Apartment 23” and Fox’s “New Girl.”
“We are opening ourselves up to look at comedies this year,” said Pedowitz. “We feel there are comedies out there that would have worked well on CW.”
That said, Pedowitz said he’s not guaranteeing the introduction of a comedy block next fall. If any of the half-hour scripts pale in comparison to the usual diet of dramas and unscripted series, he’s comfortable moving forward sans comedy.
CW hasn’t tried comedies over the past three years under the previous regime of programming topper Dawn Ostroff. In addition to developing its own half-hours like “Aliens in America” that failed to get traction, the network tried to keep comedies inherited from its two forerunners, the WB and UPN, that merged to form the CW, including “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Reba” and “The Game.”
Citing the existence of DC Comics in the Warner Bros. family, Pedowitz said he’s actively looking to add a superhero-themed series to the schedule. He’ll have some competition in that regard given ABC entertainment president Paul Lee has previously stated the same intention, drawing from the stable of Marvel, which is also owned by the network’s parent company, Walt Disney Co.
Pedowitz also spoke of his desire to see at least one drama join the schedule that avoids the serialized style that marks most CW series, given they repeat better and invite more viewers to sample beyond the premiere.
“We’re not going to walk away from serialized programming but at the same time there’s a deep focus on that closed-ended show that has a CW show feel to it,” said Pedowitz. “We need those shows. That’s where we’re headed.”
Another programming style Pedowitz signaled an interest in is remakes, citing the success of “90210” on CW and Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica.” However, he declined to identify specific properties he’s eyeing but made his desire to do something in this territory clear: “I believe in new twists on a great idea,” he said.
All of Pedowitz’s programming interests feed into a desire on his part to put shows on the schedule that both appeal to CW’s core demographic while attracting additional age groups as well. He identified the Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle “Ringer” as emblematic of that strategy.
“It will be terrific if others get to sample what the CW has to offer due to ‘Ringer,’ ” he said.
Pedowitz concluded his primetime wish list with a more pressing concern: additional original programming to help fill the gaps when series would otherwise go into repeats, particularly in the March-April time frame. “We’re going to do what we need to do to make sure we do not have those dark periods,” he said, declining to specify any development plans.
The CW also announced Thursday that it has acquired a special featuring an interview with Lady Gaga interviewed by fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier that originally aired in France. Airing Sept. 12, “Gaga by Gaultier” will be used as a lead-in for “The CW 2011 Fall Preview Special,” a 45-minute look at the network’s upcoming season, hosted by Maggie Q ( “Nikita”) and Kristoffer Polaha (“Ringer”).
Pedowitz disclosed that he has ordered additional episodes of a quartet of its dramas. Two more episodes of “Gossip Girl” and “90210” will bring their total episode count for the coming season to 24, while “Nikita” and “Supernatural” will get one more apiece, bringing their total to 23.