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10 Things We Learned From the CW Upfront Presentation

They grow up so fast. The CW highlighted its upcoming 10th anniversary during its Upfront presentation Thursday, in which execs exuded confidence in the foundation and direction of the network’s programming strategy.

“We know our brand. We know what works for us,” CW president Mark Pedowitz said to the roomful of media buyers at Manhattan’s City Center.

Here are 10 things we learned from the CW presentation

  • Supergirl” has flown home. The sight of Melissa Benoist joining the DC Comics chorus line of stars including “The Flash’s” Grant Gustin and “Arrow’s” Stephen Amell made so much sense — and offered a preview of the network’s plan for a four-series superhero crossover in 2016, now that CW has acquired the heroine for Season 2. “It belongs here,” Pedowitz said of the show that spent its freshman season down the road on CW’s big brother network, CBS.
  • CW is becoming a man cave. Pedowitz and ad sales chief Rob Tuck emphasized that the network has become essentially evenly balanced between female and male viewers (51% to 49%). Five years ago, when Pedowitz signed on, the strategy was very different and the net was 70% femme.
  • CW also has a real series bench, thanks to the DC Comics vault and its success in expanding with its unique brand of hourlong comedies. “We are fulfilling our mission as a broadcaster with series that appeal to a wide range of demographics,” Pedowitz said. “We have build a framework of quality scripted series on every night of the week.
  • CW’s new hourlong romantic comedy “No Tomorrow” played well in the room. By the end of the long clip the crowd recognized star Joshua Sasse as the singing knight of “Galavant.”
  • “Jane the Virgin” star Justin Baldoni is intent on building his bona fides as a producer. His Wayfarer Entertainment banner is producing the CW digital series “My Last Days,” a three-hanky docuseries about people with terminal illnesses looking to make a difference before they die. That comes on the heels of the documentary Baldoni directed last year, “Rebel with a Cause: The Sam Simon Story.”
  • At first blush Pedowitz’s boast that CW is the most “critically acclaimed network” sounded as far-fetched as some of the viewership stats thrown around by other networks. But after thinking about it, he just might be right. Between the affection for “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and the respect for the world of “The Flash” and “Arrow,” maybe that’s not such a crazy claim.
  • “Crazy Ex” star Rachel Bloom and “Jane’s” Gina Rodriguez talked up the CW’s high volume of female showrunners. Noting the general trend in the industry Bloom exclaimed: “I don’t know why it’s taken this long ’cause we’re like 51% of the Earth.”
  • New drama “Frequency” looks like a tonal departure for the CW — part thriller, part case-of-the-week storytelling. It stars Peyton List, known to some as the second Mrs. Roger Sterling from “Mad Men,” who previously starred on CW’s shortlived sci-fi series “The Tomorrow People.”
  • CW plans to get plenty mileage out of Facebook Live for fan chat events in the fall.
  • Riverdale,” the new contemporary take on the Archie Comics universe, is definitely not the freckle-faced Archie Andrews that has lived in comic books for 60-plus years. It’s a murder mystery, for one thing. Looks like Mr. Lodge had better watch his step.

(Pictured: “Supergirl” Melissa Benoist and stars of other DC Comics series: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Victor Garber, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz)

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