With a performance by The Black Eyed Peas to warm up the crowd and a bit of standup from Chris Rock to break up the sales pitch, the new CW network jumped into the upfront mix this week in New York, unveiling its first schedule that, debuting Sept. 18, will combine top shows from The WB and UPN.
The list includes fan favorites Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars paired together for Tuesday night “Girl’s Night” and America’s Next Top Model with teen soap One Tree Hill on Wednesdays..
As expected, TV’s longest-running family drama 7th Heaven, which was going to end its run, returns for an 11th season Monday at eight, leading into a new drama, Runaway, from Darren Star.
Runaway and comedy The Game are the only two new shows on The CW’s fall slate.
Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff says the two networks were so stacked with strong shows that CW will wait until later in the year to bring new programs into the mix. “Our strategy is to combine the hottest shows from two networks to create a great schedule,” she said. “We have a diverse schedule of full of established hits leading off every night.”
Shows on tap for midseason include a mystery drama, Hidden Palms, and possibly super hero drama Aquaman.
Addressing concerns that the departure of UPN and The WB meant a decrease in programming targeted to urban audiences, there is an urban comedy block slated for Sunday nights, with three veteran shows--Everybody Hates Chris, All of Us and Girlfriends--and The Game, from the producers of Girlfriends, capped off by a rerun of America’s Next Top Model.
Sunday could be rechristened "rerunday."
The CW will actually give the four Sunday comedies even more exposure, repeating them at 5-7 on the following Sunday in advance of their new episodes. That means that for Sept. 18, it will likely have to program the 5-7 P.M. block with repeats of last season's finales of the three returning shows or a best-of selection, though it is unclear what it will program in The Game's slot before it gets at least one repeat under its belt.
To tempt advertisers, CW execs played up the network as the only place on broadcast TV to find the coveted 18-34 demographic. In hopes of keeping those fickle young viewers from flipping away at commercial breaks, the network is creating “content wraps,” or mini-programs that will run within commercial breaks and can be sponsored by advertisers and loaded with product placements.
For example, one idea is Date Night, a short dating program that would follow a prospective couple getting ready, meeting, and recapping their date in three, two-minute segments that will be peppered through The CW’s prime. “We are reinventing the commercial break,” Ostroff said.
The CW also plans a full compliment of online and mobile offerings, including blogs, an online community area called The Lounge and streaming of its shows and related programming extras.
The full CW schedule:
The three new shows are:
The Game (Kelsey Grammer producing) which reads like a comedy version of ITV drama Footballers Wives. This one is the American version of footballers, however, and the wives and girlfriends that love/put up with them.
Runaway, which sounds like The Fugitive on the family plan, about a family hiding out in an Iowa town while the father tries to clear his name.
Hidden Palms, a drama from Lionsgate, has a definite Desperate Housewives feel to it. It is about a young boy, Johnny Milller, whose father committed suicide and who lives in an upscale community of golf courses and country clubs (no, it's not that Johnny Miller) with secrets lying just beneath the surface.
The full CW schedule:
7-7:30 Everybody Hates Chris
7:30-8 All Of Us
8:30-9 The Game (New Series)
9-10 America’s Next Top Model (Encore Presentation)
8-90 7th Heaven
9-10 Runaway (New Series)
8-9 Gilmore Girls
9-10 Veronica Mars
8-9 America’s Next Top Model
9-10 One Tree Hill
8-10 Friday Night Smackdown!
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