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Gathering Around the CW’s Hearth

Dec 2, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Whether it’s the weekly travails of the Camden family in past seasons on “7th Heaven,” the mother-daughter dynamics of “Gilmore Girls” or the current antics of the multigenerational, blended Clarke clan on “Life Is Wild,” The CW network continues a tradition of emphasizing family entertainment. In fact, considering the dearth of family-oriented programming, The CW stands out as a place to watch TV with your family, and that starts with Dawn Ostroff, CW Entertainment president.
“I still do believe that families watch TV together,” Ms. Ostroff said. “Television is a shared community experience, and for many, that begins in the home.”
In 2006, Ms. Ostroff spoke at a Family Friendly Programming Forum conference about the changing definition of what makes a family. “There’s no one definition of what a family is anymore,” she told the conference. “A family is people who live in a home together and love each other—that’s all that matters.”
To Ms. Ostroff, family-friendly television is a tradition on The CW because it’s programming that works. Speaking specifically of “7th Heaven” and “Gilmore Girls,” two critically acclaimed shows that had long runs—12 years and seven years, respectively—Ms. Ostroff said in a recent interview, “An important element to family-oriented programming is that it must portray family situations in an honest and relatable fashion, which both of these shows did exceptionally well.”
Currently, Ms. Ostroff points to two situation comedies with strong family themes, “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Life Is Wild.” “Even though the settings of shows like ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ and ‘Life Is Wild’ may be different,” she said, “with ‘Chris’ taking place in New York during the 1980s and ‘Life Is Wild’ set in modern-day South Africa, the families are at the core of both of these shows. They focus on issues that parents face and situations that teenagers and children can relate to.”
One way The CW appeals to family viewers is by working with the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of more than 40 major national advertisers, who are taking positive steps to increase family-friendly programming choices on TV. The advertisers, all members of the Association of National Advertisers, represent approximately 30% of all U.S. TV ad dollars.
“Shows like ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ and ‘Life Is Wild,’ as well as ‘Gilmore Girls,’ were each supported from the early stages of development by the Family Friendly Programming Forum for the fact that they’re all quality shows that entire families can watch together,” Ms. Ostroff said.
Times have changed since “7th Heaven” premiered in 1996, but good stories and compelling characters always work in bringing a family audience to the network. “The same things that brought families together five years ago still bring families to the set today,” Ms. Ostroff said. “Quality programming with well-crafted, relatable stories that deal with real situations always make for the best family programming.”
Even though new technology such as DVRs, iPods and time-shifting has changed the way people receive TV programming, it hasn’t changed how The CW programs family-friendly fare. “Technology is changing the way people watch our programs, but when we look to create shows that the entire family can watch, we focus on the content and the quality,” said Ms. Ostroff. “That hasn’t really been altered by technology.”
Family Friendly-TV

26 Comments

  1. I find CW President Dawn Ostroff’s stance on family shows a bit hypocritical. A year ago she was raving about how the network would be the destination for the 18-34 demographic. The Young People. Sadly, Everwood, a great family drama was victim of this thought process. Everwood averaged four million an airing. It was argued Everwood was deem to ‘old’ in demos. But even as a 21 year old male in the young demo, Everwood was the only show I made time to watch with my family.
    Its important to note, Family units have never existed solely in the 18-34 market. More like 1-100 yrold market. The CW frosted out a big chunk of people who could have been their biggest supporters.
    Now a year later, with the CW garnering lower ratings, she’s backtracking on her words. Family dramas are suddenly ‘important again’
    Lets take down a walk on memory lane, although she did renew 7th heaven for another season. After 11 years, the series was on its last limb; interest was waning. The Gilmore Girls’ contracts up were also up at the end of 06′. The leads showed little interest of continuing for season 8. In final years, both series had also lost their significant part of their fanbase.
    Dawn Ostroff should have consider Everwood’s importance in the long run. CW’s Sunday nights which have been designated for ‘families’ are now barely achieving a 1 million rating. The CW needed a family winner- Everwood was their ticket. They missed the boat. Only four season in, the show was as fresh as ever. It presented well crafted storytelling and 3 dimensional characters anyone family member could relate to.
    If you were the head of network, which would you prefer a 1 million rating for the night or 4 million veiwers? The answers obvious.
    Her statements, “Quality programming with well-crafted, relatable stories that deal with real situations always make for the best family programming.” and “when we look to create shows that the entire family can watch, we focus on the content and the quality” If that’s how she feels, then why on earth did she cancel Everwood. The show fit all of those guidelines. Content, Quality, and Heart.
    Everwood was a critcal darling and could have given them some respect. Instead the CW Network is synonymous with their first action: killing off Everwood. A family series which was raved abut in the New York Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Philadelphia Daily News, and Time Magazine.
    CW, you turn your back on the Family unit. Now we’ve turned our back on you. Your ratings reflect it.

  2. From the article:
    “Speaking specifically of “7th Heaven” and “Gilmore Girls,” two critically acclaimed shows that had long runs—12 years and seven years, respectively”
    Puhleeeez—I’ve NEVER seen the words “7th Heaven” and “critically acclaimed” in the same sentence until now. You’ve got to be kidding!!! Granted, 7H was “family friendly” but it was poorly written, amateurishly acted and lazily directed for its entire run. It made “Gilligans Island” look like “Masterpiece Theater”. To specifically choose to renew that show at the cost of “Everwood” (a truly critically acclaimed family drama) shows exactly what dimwits Ms. Ostroff and the rest of the CW brass truly are.

  3. From the article:
    “Speaking specifically of “7th Heaven” and “Gilmore Girls,” two critically acclaimed shows that had long runs—12 years and seven years, respectively”
    Puhleeeez—I’ve NEVER seen the words “7th Heaven” and “critically acclaimed” in the same sentence until now. You’ve got to be kidding!!! Granted, 7H was “family friendly” but it was poorly written, amateurishly acted and lazily directed for its entire run. It made “Gilligans Island” look like “Masterpiece Theater”. To specifically choose to renew that show at the cost of “Everwood” (a truly critically acclaimed family drama) shows exactly what dimwits Ms. Ostroff and the rest of the CW brass truly are.

  4. 7th Heaven- “critically acclaimed show” that’s one of the most ridiculously unfounded statements I’ve heard all year. True, the show may be family friendly, but it’s hardly worthwhile entertainment.

  5. Ok I need to get my two cents in on this. Let me start with a quote from the above article.( In 2006, Ms. Ostroff spoke at a Family Friendly Programming Forum conference about the changing definition of what makes a family. “There’s no one definition of what a family is anymore,” she told the conference. “A family is people who live in a home together and love each other—that’s all that matters.” ) Ok now tell me- Are You People Out Of Your Minds! How can you clame any type of FAMILY FRIENDLY anything with this person in charge?
    Dear MS. Ostroff the definition of a family IS and will ALWAYS be a MOTHER, FATHER, + Child or children. YOU may not like that. It may not fit your agenda but to damb bad. I may live with 10 other guys while I am at college, and I may love them like my brothers, but they are not my family! I/ We do not need the likes of you trying to redefine what family is or even marriage for that matter! Your comment reveal just how ANTI-FAMILY you really are.

  6. I’m not really asking for much but please will someone out there release the remaining 3 seasons of EVERWOOD to DVD. It can’t really be all that hard and for gods sake so many people want them released. Please just give us one more chance to prove our loyalty to the show and see how many DVD sales they generate this time. One more season that’s all I’m really asking for.

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