Upfront Navigator: The CW: Forming One Network from the Assets of The WB, UPN

May 15, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In what is considered the true scheduling wild card of the season, The CW will inaugurate its first year on the air with a lineup that combines programming from The WB and UPN.

The network’s executives teased ad buyers with several potential schedules at its pre-upfront presentation in March. They also refused to give any hints of what series have been renewed for 2006-06. Nevertheless, insiders throughout the industry consider several scheduling moves sure things.

With UPN’s selection of comedies targeting black viewers with African American leads, The CW should be able to craft a solid two-hour comedy block on Mondays by choosing the strongest of those UPN sitcoms.

UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Girlfriends” are the most likely candidates, with “Girlfriends” spinoff “The Game” a logical choice among the network’s comedy pilots.

If stability counts for anything, The CW is likely to keep The WB’s veteran “Gilmore Girls” on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., which provides the Warner Bros.-owned UPN drama “Veronica Mars” with the kind of lead-in Dawn Ostroff, The CW’s president of programming, could have only dreamed of when she picked up the show in her days developing for UPN.

“America’s Next Top Model” has worked for UPN on Wednesdays and could provide a platform for a female-targeted drama or another reality series at 9 p.m.

The WB’s Thursday schedule of “Smallville” and “Supernatural” has been a performer this season, which could keep the dramas intact for the fall.

The return of pro wrestling would also solve the question of what to do on Fridays.

The biggest blank slate is Sundays, “a night that The WB wasn’t really strong with and UPN never programmed,” said Brad Adgate, senior VP of research for Horizon Media.

The 20th Century Fox 7 p.m. comedy “Reba” is not expected to return, being renewed last year through the end of next season.

The demise of “Charmed” and The WB’s failures at 9 p.m. mean big Sunday needs remain.

The WB’s “One Tree Hill,” which could easily be considered a midseason replacement, might get the Sunday 9 p.m. slot if The CW decides the old but familiar trumps the new but untested.

The CW Pilots Chart