CW Upfront: 'Melrose Place,' 'Vampire Diaries' on Tap
The CW, the final broadcast network to make an upfront schedule presentation in New York this week, added three new dramas to its lineup, allowing entertainment President Dawn Ostroff to make the claim that the five-night-a-week channel has the same amount of scripted programming as NBC.
Once the subject of rumors that it would be shut down, The CW now points to a successful season, with commercial ratings up 18% in its core demographic of women 18 to 34 and a number of buzzworthy shows including “Gossip Girl” and “90210.”
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The new schedule was designed for coherence and flow and features more pretty young faces.
Monday is unchanged, with “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill.”
On Tuesday, “90210” is being paired with another ’90s Fox throwback, “Melrose Place,” as they were in their original run.
On Wednesday “America’s Next Top Model” leads into “The Beautiful Life,” a drama about fashion models.
Thursday pairs spooky action show “Supernatural” with “The Vampire Diaries.”
“Smallville” airs Friday with a rerun of “Top Model,” and the network has given Sunday night back to its affiliates after last year’s ill-fated time-buy deal with Media Rights Capital, whose shows never got off the ground.
“It’s five nights of continuous flow,” Ms. Ostroff said. “It feels like we’ve really arrived.”
Ms. Ostroff said she expected there would be character crossovers between “90210” and “Melrose” because both shows are shot in the same city and produced by the same company.
Ms. Ostroff said The CW developed only six series but that all were contenders for the schedule. One series, “Parental Discretion Advised,” which she described as “Juno” meets “Gilmore Girls,” was picked up for midseason.
She said the network still has room for a midseason show, and it could still be the much-talked-about spinoff of “Gossip Girl.”
“We’ll see if we can find a place for it,” she said.
The CW’s new schedule is firmly aimed at women 18-34, a demographic Ms. Ostroff said is much in demand among ad buyers. As they go through life events such as graduating high school, going to college, getting their first apartments, getting engaged, marrying and having children, these women are making many big decisions, and marketers want their brands top of mind when those decisions are made.
“People are looking to our shows for clues about culture, fashion and technology trends,” Ms. Ostroff added.
Executive VP Rob Tuck, in his first upfront as head of sales for The CW, said that while the economy might mean a tough upfront market, “The CW is positioned in the best place it could possibly be,” with its focus on young women and rising ratings.
Shari Brill, senior VP of programming services at media buyer Carat, thought The CW had finally found a successful strategy in focusing on the young women niche.
The shows seemed to be attractive, as did the characters in them, she said.
“They don’t seem to have a problem finding good-looking people,” Ms. Brill said.
The CW's upfront press release appears in part below:
Following is The CW’s 2009-2010 primetime schedule, a night-by-night breakdown and accompanying details on all the programs.
(New shows are in uppercase)
8-9 p.m.: Gossip Girl
9-10 p.m.: One Tree Hill
8-9 p.m.: 90210
9-10 p.m.: MELROSE PLACE
8-9 p.m.: America's Next Top Model
9-10 p.m.: THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE
8-9 p.m.: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
9-10 p.m.: Supernatural
8-9 p.m.: Smallville
"MELROSE PLACE” (New Series)
In an elegant Spanish-style apartment building in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, a diverse group of 20-somethings have formed a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton of the original “Melrose Place”) is the landlady, still beautiful at 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck (Shaun Sipos, “Shark”). Sydney started an affair with David despite her turbulent history with his estranged father, Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro, the original “Melrose Place”). Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people. Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms (Katie Cassidy, “Supernatural”), once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career. Sydney also played a pivotal role in the career of Auggie Kirkpatrick (Colin Egglesfield, “All My Children”). After they met at an AA meeting, she became Auggie’s sponsor and encouraged his dream to become a chef. Now a successful sous chef at the trendy restaurant Coal, Auggie has been avoiding Sydney since she began drinking again. The other tenants include Lauren Yung (Stephanie Jacobsen, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”), a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller (Michael Rady, “Swingtown”), an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend Riley Richmond (Jessica Lucas, “Cloverfield”), a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, 18-year-old Violet Foster (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, “7th Heaven”), has just arrived in L.A. with her own secret connection to Sydney. When a bloody body is found floating in the courtyard pool, David is the leading suspect. However, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way. An updated version of the popular 1990s series, "Melrose Place" is from CBS Television Studios with executive producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer (“Smallville”). Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”) is the director and executive producer of the pilot.
“THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE”
The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but as every new model quickly learns, behind the beautiful facade is a world of insecurity and cutthroat competition. Two teenage models who are about to discover this world for themselves are Raina Collins (Sara Paxton, “Last House on the Left”), a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth, “The Line”), a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy. When Raina makes an unforgettable impression at a show introducing the new line from designer Zac Posen (appearing in a cameo), she steals the spotlight from her friend Sonja (Mischa Barton, “The OC”). Sonja has been out of the country for mysterious reasons and is now desperate to reclaim her standing as the reigning supermodel. While Raina and Sonja live at the top of the fashion food chain, Chris is starting at the bottom, having just been discovered by agent Simon Lockridge (newcomer Dusan Dukic) of the Covet Modeling Agency, which is owned by former supermodel Claudia Foster (Elle Macpherson, “Friends”). At his first photo shoot, Chris’ inexperience almost derails his career until Raina comes to his rescue, showing him how to relax and work the camera. That afternoon, Raina brings Chris to the “models’ residence” where she lives along with other young hopefuls, including Marissa Delfina (Ashley Madekwe, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl”), Egan (Jordan Woolley, “As The World Turns”), Issac (Corbin Bleu, “High School Musical 2”) and the current alpha-male model known as Kai (Nico Tortorella, “Twelve”). At an exclusive industry party that night, Chris is again impressed by Raina’s generosity when she steps aside to make sure Sonja lands a job that will resurrect her career. However, after an ugly scene with Simon, Chris is left to question whether he can survive in this world of dangerous excess and fleeting fame. "The Beautiful Life" is from Katalyst Films in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg (“True Beauty,” “Punk’d”), Karey Burke (“True Beauty”), Mike Kelley (“Swingtown,” “Jericho”) and Carol Barbee (“Swingtown,” “Jericho”). Christian Duguay (“Coco Chanel”) directed the pilot.
“THE VAMPIRE DIARIES”
Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, “DeGrassi: The Next Generation”) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, “Everwood”) are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives. Elena has always been the star student—beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends—but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world. As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, “Army Wives”). Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, “Lost”) is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality. Now these two vampire brothers—one good, one evil—are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. Based on the series of books by L.J. Smith, "The Vampire Diaries" is from Alloy Entertainment and Bonanza Productions Inc in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios with executive producers Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer”), Julie Plec (“Kyle XY,” “Wasteland”), Leslie Morgenstein (“Gossip Girl,” “Privileged”) and Bob Levy (“Gossip Girl,” “Privileged”). Marcos Siega (“Dexter”) directed the pilot.
“PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED”
After spending all of her 15 years bouncing from one foster family to another in Portland, Oregon, Lux (Britt Robertson, “Swingtown”) has decided it’s time to take control of her life and become an emancipated minor. Her journey through the legal maze leads Lux to her biological father, 30-something Nate “Baze” Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha, “Mad Men”), who owns a bar, lives like an aging frat boy with two slacker roommates and is astonished to learn that he has a teenage daughter. Lux is equally astonished when Baze reveals that her mother is Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby, “ER”), a star on the local “Morning Madness” radio show, along with her on-air partner and real-life boyfriend, Ryan Thomas (Kerr Smith, “Eli Stone”). Lux has been listening to Cate’s voice on the radio as long as she can remember, so she feels an instant connection with the mom she’s never met. Baze takes Lux to meet Cate, who is shocked and saddened to learn that Lux has grown up in foster care, but thrilled to finally meet her beautiful daughter. When a judge decides Lux isn’t ready for emancipation and unexpectedly grants temporary joint custody to Baze and Cate, they agree to try to get past the awkwardness and make a belated attempt to give Lux the family she deserves. "Parental Discretion Advised" is produced by Mojo Films in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Liz Tigelaar (“Brothers & Sisters,” “What About Brian”) and Gary Fleder (“October Road”). Gary Fleder directed the pilot.