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CW Chief on ‘Supergirl,’ Scripted Strategy, ‘The 100’ Controversy

supergirl the flash crossover myriad james
Courtesy of CBS

The CW has 15 original scripted series slated for the upcoming 2016-17 season. Network president Mark Pedowitz believes that may be the network’s sweet spot.

“What it says is what the original strategy has always been — we wanted to have year-round scripted programming,” Pedowitz said Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Pedowitz has, since joining the network as president in 2011, steadily ramped up its scripted output. But 15 series, he said, “may be the right amount, give or take, for us.”

Pedowitz on Thursday talked about the changes that one of those series, “Supergirl,” compelled the network to make when the show was offered to the CW this spring shortly before upfronts. Produced by Warner Bros., “Supergirl” had aired its first season on CBS. When CBS decided not to pick it up for a second season, Warner Bros. offered it with CBS’ blessing to the CW. (The CW is a joint venture of CBS and Warner Bros.)

The last-minute move forced scheduling changes for the fall as the CW sought to accommodate a shift that would keep “Supergirl” in the timeslot it had occupied on CBS.

“We recognized immediately that it had to be on Monday at eight,” Pedowitz said. “We had every intention at that point in time of picking up ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ for fall, and we were going to leave it in it’s timeslot.” The addition of “Supergirl” forced a shift of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” in the Friday-night 9 p.m. timeslot.

But “Supergirl” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are indicative of the twin poles of the CW’s future scripted strategy.

“We have a very specific mission,” he said. “We believe in high-concept or genre that has a serialized form. So if it fits those needs, we go with it. Now, would we like a ‘Homeland’ or would we like a ‘The Night Of’ in some form that fits what our audience profiles are, which are 43 [years old] on broadcast and 23 digitally? Sure.”

Pedowitz also discussed Thursday:

• With the next season of “The Vampire Diaries” set to be its last, the network and producers are in talks with original star Nina Dobrev to make a return to the show. “There are discussions going on with Nina,” Pedowitz siad. “We would love to have her back.”

• With “Supergirl” in the fold, the network is not looking to add an additional superhero series to a stable of them that also includes, “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” “We weren’t expecting to have four this season,” Pedowitz said. He added, “At this time we’re in no real discussions about any other superhero characters,” to build series around. The network did announce a new animated series on digital platform CW Seed based on the DC superhero The Ray. That character will eventually appear on one of network’s live-action DC shows.

• The controversy over the killing of the character Lexa last season on “The 100” — one of a number of LGBTQ characters killed last season in a short period on television that prompted social media outcry and the “Bury Your Gays” trope — did not prompt any sensitivity training for showrunner Jason Rothenberg or summit with LGBTQ activists in the offseason. Rothenberg had actively celebrated the positive depiction of the character’s sexuality on social media before suddenly killing her off. “I think he got a great learning curve of what social media can do whether you be adored or hated at any given time,” Pedowitz said. He added, “We’re believers in letting showrunners tell their stories.”