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The CW: Pushing for More Original Programming

Complete coverage of the 2011 upfronts
The Best and Worst of Upfronts 2011
ABC: Lee Gets Network Laughing Again
CBS: Scheduling For Strength
Fox: 'In It to Win It' With Big Bets Like 'X Factor'
NBC: Greenblatt Wants To Find His New 'Voice'
Turner: Programs Power Through Upfront Clips Snafu
ESPN: Flexing Its Marketing Muscle
Upfront 2011 Marketplace: Wet Week Clears Way For Hot Ad Market

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The CW, soon to be under the sole direction of new network president Mark Pedowitz, will add four new series this fall and target two others for midseason as part of its strategy to feature more original programming season-long.

The fewer number of shows on The CW compared to other broadcast networks previously led to long midseason hiatuses, with viewers sometimes not returning to shows in the spring. “We want to make sure that our viewer doesn’t go away,” Pedowitz said last week. “And we’ll be very creative to try to get there.”

The CW has built a schedule to protect its freshman series, with all three new dramas airing at 9 p.m. to benefit from strong lead-ins. “We wanted our established shows to start off the night,” said Dawn Ostroff, The CW’s departing president of entertainment. Gossip Girl moves back an hour on Mondays to lead into Hart of Dixie, 90210 shifts up a night to deliver viewers to Ringer on Tuesdays, and The Secret Circle will follow The CW’s highest-rated series, The Vampire Diaries, on Thursdays.

Common threads in a couple of the new series lent well to the piggyback scheduling. Medical dramedy Hart of Dixie is from Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, executive producers of Gossip Girl. The series stars Rachel Bilson (The O.C.) as a fish-out-ofwater New York doctor who inherits a small medical practice in Alabama.

Secret Circle
is also a perfect companion to Vampire Diaries; both are based on book series by L.J. Smith and executive produced by Kevin Williamson. Secret Circle is about a girl who moves to a new town after the death of her mother and discovers she is part of a coven of powerful witches.

In a big get for the network, Sarah Michelle Gellar will return to series television in Ringer, about a woman on the run who assumes the identity of her wealthy identical twin sister. Gellar previously starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for seven seasons on The CW’s predecessor networks, The WB and UPN, and comes with a loyal fan base.

Ringer was originally developed for CBS, which owns half of The CW, but when CBS declined to pick up the pilot, discussions began about two weeks before the upfronts to bring it to the sister network. “It fit in our wheelhouse and it was a great opportunity to have Sarah on our air,” Pedowitz said.

Wednesday becomes a reality block with new series H8R (hosted by Mario Lopez), in which celebrities will try to win over their “haters,” paired with the all-star edition of America’s Next Top Model. Two more reality entries, Re-Modeled and The Frame, are targeted for The CW’s midseason.