The CW Sticks to Upfront Message

Jul 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In her network’s inaugural Television Critics Association press tour executive session Monday, The CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff stuck close to the message she gave advertisers at the network upfront in May: A schedule of returning shows culled from The WB and UPN will play well in an environment where they are no longer competing against each other.

“We laid a strong foundation of proven performers, a number of which are first or second in their time period in the key demos,” Ms. Ostroff said, referring to the network’s goal of attracting men and women 18 to 34.

But one plus one will not automatically equal three, Ms. Ostroff said, noting that the ratings for The CW won’t be a combination of the UPN and WB audiences.

“We will not suddenly reach new heights,” she said, stressing that The CW is “still realistic about expectations.”

With CW programming not premiering until Sept. 20, and the turnover for most stations not scheduled until Sept. 18, viewers are “going to see a combination of things” as the network unveils its staggered lineup.

“There will be repeats of the [already debuted] shows,” Ms. Ostroff said. “We will show finales on the last week prior to premiering. Then we will also be running the week of the 18th a [network] premiere special.”

It was an “agonizing decision” to not bring The WB family drama “Everwood” back for another season, Ms. Ostroff said, but since it was the oldest-skewing show on either UPN or The WB, and it had been unable to serve as a lead-in for another show, it didn’t make the cut.

At the TCA Winter Press Tour in January, then-WB Chairman Garth Ancier said “7th Heaven” was forcing the network into a $16 million deficit to produce new episodes, but now with “Heaven” parent company CBS Corp. also one of the forces behind The CW, those financial differences were resolved, Ms. Ostroff said.

“Both sides rolled up their sleeves” to hammer out a deal for another season of the show, which had been officially canceled, she said. But Ms. Ostroff also noted it is “hard to say goodbye to a show that’s the No.1 show on the network.”

Asked whether the comedy “Reba” made the transition from The WB to The CW because of episode commitments made years ago to “Reba” producer 20th Century Fox TV, Ms. Ostroff said the show “was the highest-rated comedy on The WB for five years.”

“It’s a great show to have on our bench,” she added.

Ms. Ostroff also recapped the network’s online plans, which include CWlab, an online site that allows viewers to create and submit their own on-air promos, and CWlounge, an online community for viewers to discuss network shows.

Critics had trouble understanding the concept of the network’s previously announced content wraps, or “CWs,” which Ms. Ostroff said will be the network’s experiment in short reality series-like product placement segments that will run in place of national ads on selected nights.

In casting news, The CW has scored Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg, who will appear in two episodes of the comedy “Everybody Hates Chris.” Haylie Duff will also be returning to “Heaven,” with her character making the move to seminary school. Since Ms. Duff is appearing on Broadway in the musical “Hairspray,” some of her scenes will be shot in New York. In addition, “Heaven” star Stephen Collins’ character will suffer a major heart ailment that will affect the show’s story lines, Ms. Ostroff said.

Following is The CW’s 2006-2007 night-by-night breakdown of prime-time premiere dates (asterisks indicate programs that will air in high definition):

  • Wednesday, Sept. 20: “America’s Next Top Model” (special two-hour premiere)

  • Friday, Sept. 22: “Friday Night Smackdown!”

  • Monday, Sept. 25: 8 p.m. (ET) “7th Heaven”; 9 p.m. “Runaway”*

  • Tuesday, Sept. 26: 8 p.m. “Gilmore Girls”*

  • Wednesday, Sept. 27: 9 p.m. “One Tree Hill”*

  • Thursday, Sept. 28: 8 p.m. “Smallville”*; 9 p.m. “Supernatural”*

  • Sunday, Oct. 1: 7 p.m. “Everybody Hates Chris”*; 7:30p.m. “All of Us”*; 8 p.m. “Girlfriends”*; 8:30 p.m. “The Game”*; 9 p.m. “America’s Next Top Model” (repeat)

  • Tuesday, Oct. 3: 9 p.m. “Veronica Mars”*