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CW’s Mark Pedowitz Talks ‘Supergirl,’ ‘Riverdale’ and Critical Acclaim

CW president Mark Pedowitz came before the TCA press tour right after renewing seven of the network’s shows. Consequently, one of the biggest themes in his Q&A session was the network’s loyalty to programs like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin,” despite their low linear ratings.

“It has nothing to do with numbers,” Pedowitz said. “‘Crazy Ex,’ ‘Jane,’ as franchises, have helped alter the perception of what the CW has become. When you have great critical work, critically acclaimed, award-nominated shows like ‘Crazy,’ it deserved to be picked up. Sometimes with critically acclaimed, great programming, you just [renew it] and hope that it finds an audience. In today’s fragmented world, [awards nominations] give you a calling card.”

The network’s newest high-profile show is “Riverdale,” an adaptation of the Archie comics. It’s a dark murder mystery that has elements of everything from “Twin Peaks” to “Beverly Hills 90210.”

“We thought there was a need in the marketplace” for that kind of twisty soap, Pedowitz said, especially with “Teen Wolf” and “Pretty Little Liars” going off the air soon.

Will the CW expand the number of Archie-related shows on its air? “Talk to me in about five or six weeks,” Pedowitz replied.

Low-rated freshman series “No Tomorrow” and “Frequency” have not yet been renewed, and their returns appear to be unlikely. “Whether it was the fall presidential election, whether it was the World Series, whether it was ‘This Is Us’ [competing against] ‘No Tomorrow,’ the linear numbers were not where we wanted them to be,” Pedowitz admitted.

Pedowitz added that no decision had been made on the renewal of either program, but noted that there was no way the network could have gone beyond 13 episodes for each, given that the network had five new and returning shows to debut at mid-season.

There was the bi-annual question about how long “Supernatural” will run, with one critic asking if the show was looking to outlast the record-setting drama “Gunsmoke.” Given that the show was just renewed for a 13th season, Pedowitz joked, “I was hoping for a bar mitzvah this year.”

“I’ve said this ad infinitum, I’m sure most of you can quote me: as long as the show is performing and the boys want to do it and I’m sitting in this chair, the show has a long life,” Pedowitz said.

One critic asked about the two CW shows — “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin” — that featured abortion storylines this fall. Pedowitz said that he thought those plots were “organic” and that he had not seen any negative feedback from viewers.

“I support my showrunners, I support their ability to do the plot lines they want to do,” Pedowitz said.

As for the network’s recently announced reboot of “Charmed,” it is not a prequel and there are no plans at this point for the show’s original cast to be part of the show.

“It is a self-contained, self-sustained show,” Pedowitz said.

“Charmed” isn’t the only revival in the CW house. “Constantine” will be returning as an animated show for CW Seed. Matt Ryan, who played the character on NBC’s short-lived live-action version of the show, will voice John Constantine, though there are no plans to have him appear on any CW shows.

Supergirl,” which moved to the CW last fall, has received a great deal of acclaim for how it has introduced the romance of two female characters, and Pedowitz applauded the handling of that relationship.

“I think they’re doing a great job. Maggie in the DC lore is a gay character,” he said, adding that he supported the “Supergirl” executive producers “going even further” in making her storyline and Alex’s coming-out more prominent on the show, which aired on CBS in its debut season.

As one TV writer noted, there were an inordinate number of lesbian characters who died on TV in 2016, especially in light of their limited representation on TV, and the death of a gay woman on “The 100” was the subject of a particularly fierce outcry.

“You think?” Pedowitz said. Asked whether the “Supergirl” producers were bearing those factors in mind, Pedowitz deferred to the executive producers of that show and said that he supported their vision for the superhero drama’s characters.

“As far as I’m concerned, [death] is a plot device,” Pedowitz said. “Characters on ‘The 100’ do live or die. It’s an apocalyptic take. I’m impressed by the fan reaction to that whole thing. That said, it was a plot point, and we support our executive producer on it.”

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