Heather Olander has been named head of unscripted programming at the CW.
Olander will be responsible for overseeing development and production of alternative reality series, events and specials on behalf of the network. Her hiring signals the beginning of a major pivot at the CW, which previously focused largely on scripted programming but will have “minimal” carryover in its content by the 2023-2024 broadcast season under new majority owners Nexstar.
Olander joins the CW two years after her 2020 exit from NBCUniversal, where she worked for nearly a decade. She entered the company in 2011 as senior vice president of alternative development and programming for USA Network. She added Syfy to her purview in 2014. In 2019, she began running alternative development for Peacock in addition to her work with USA and Syfy, being promoted to executive vice president of alternative development and programming across the three brands.
Among the slate of unscripted series she launched at NBCUniversal are the “Chrisley Knows Best” franchise, the “Temptation Island” reboot, “Miz & Mrs.” and “Straight Up Steve Austin.”
Olander also previously served as vice president of original series development and current programming at MTV from 2003 to 2010.
“As we re-imagine our programming strategy, we are truly fortunate to have Heather Olander leading the unscripted team at The CW,” said Brad Schwartz, president of entertainment at the CW. “Heather is an industry dynamo with a stellar reputation for discovering talent and cultivating relationships with content producers. With her boundless creativity, I’m confident we’ll develop innovative nonfiction series for The CW Network that catalyzes conversations.”
“I’m incredibly honored to join Brad and the team at this exciting time of transformation for The CW,” Olander said. “I’m looking forward to developing a fresh slate of non-scripted programming and collaborating with non-scripted producers on new innovative and creative content that can break through and resonate with viewers.”