THE WB: Time to Grow Up

May 16, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Rather than return to the high school playground on which it has so often played, The WB may for the new season embrace more sophisticated fare with veteran auspices, insiders said.

The WB could use at least one new drama for Sunday, plus a show more robust than the critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged “Jack & Bobby” on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. And like all its competitors, at least two new comedies would help invigorate its comedy blocks on Thursday and Friday.

Despite the success of “Blue Collar TV” on Thursdays, two seasons have gone by since The WB had a comedy hit. The network’s saving grace has been the continued success of teen- and 20-something-focused stalwarts such as “7th Heaven,” “Gilmore Girls” and “One Tree Hill.”

But rather than focusing solely on its teen and 20-something audience, The WB this development season made a priority of being in business with A-list show creators and targeting the upper range of the adults 18 to 34 demo. New Entertainment President David Janollari brought in, for example, producers such as Tom Fontana, David E. Kelley and Jerry Bruckheimer to develop for The WB.

Front-of-the camera talent includes Camryn Manheim in a comedy as a single mother and Rebecca Romijn as a TV reporter in the drama “Pepper Dennis.”

Network executives have been talking up “Pepper Dennis,” sources said, while Warner Bros.’ drama “Supernatural” was described by one agent as “all but picked up.”

“He’s done a good job wrangling in the high-level talent,” an agent said of Mr. Janollari. “He went after those people and got them.”

Another agent said forgoing high school dramas has its risks.

“[The WB has] an identity problem,” he said. “They are developing away from what has made them what they were.”

Still, another agent said that with just 13 hours of programming, The WB can do more for its flat ratings with less.

“If they have just one fresh show, they’ll be fine,” he said.