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TCA: The CW's Ostroff: No Deadline to Prove Ourselves

Beverly Hills -- The past two years have been “very challenging” for The CW, conceded the network’s entertainment president, Dawn Ostroff. But there is “no deadline” for the network to prove itself.

“We feel that we’ve made a lot of progress,” Ostroff said during The CW’s presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour here. “We feel that we’re going to have a good season. We’re also building assets four our parent company.”

Ostroff talked up the network’s median viewer age of 34, noting that the average viewer at the next youngest network, Fox, is a full decade older. And she noted that The CW is the home of Gossip Girl, one of the most buzzed-about programs in recent seasons.

The challenge for still-young network, formed in 2006 from the ashes of The WB and UPN, is translating buzz to eyeballs.

Gossip Girl is one of the big mysteries of the television universe. We have a show that everybody is talking about,” Ostroff said, citing a recent story in The New York Times about the impact the show has had on the fashion industry as evidence of its cultural impact.

Ostroff said the onus is on ratings giant Nielsen to embrace a new-media mandate to measure viewers no matter how and when they’re watching.

“Every viewer must be counted,” she said. “No viewer should be left behind. There needs to be a way to count all of these viewers. Clearly they’re watching -- they’re just not watching at home.”

The CW has high hopes for 90210, an update of the 1990s Fox series. And it will launch its schedule Sept. 1, after the Olympic Games have concluded but before the fall broadcast crush in mid-September (see launch schedule below).

The CW also announced the addition of a horror-themed realty series from Sam Raimi’s production company called 13: Fear Is Real for the fourth quarter. Ostroff described it as the reality version of The Blair Witch Project, but TV critics questioned the show’s potential to instill genuine chills since the contestants obviously will not really be in danger.

“Of course [the contestants] know it’s a reality show,” she said. “But the intensity of the situations they’re living in and the challenges they’re dealing with really feel real to them. It was shocking to see how invested these contestants are. They really felt the horror.”

Ostroff was peppered with questions about independent studio Media Rights Capital, which The CW commissioned to program dramas Valentine and Easy Money and comedy Surviving Suburbia on Sunday nights.

“They’re giving us the opportunity to have more scripted programming on the network than we’ve ever had before,” she said.

For the latest news and video from the TCA press tour, click here.

Following are The CW’s fall-2008 primetime premiere dates:

Monday, Sept. 1

8 p.m.-9 p.m.: Gossip Girl

9 p.m.-10p.m.: One Tree Hill

Tuesday, Sept. 2

8 p.m.-10 p.m.: 90210 (two-hour premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 3

8 p.m.-10 p.m.: America’s Next Top Model (two-hour premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 9

9 p.m.-10 p.m.: Privileged (formerly known as Surviving the Filthy Rich)

Thursday, Sept. 18

8 p.m.-9 p.m.: Smallville

9 p.m.-10 p.m.: Supernatural

Friday, Oct. 3

8 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Everybody Hates Chris

8:30 p.m.-9 p.m.: The Game

9 p.m.-10 p.m.America’s Next Top Model (encore presentation)

Wednesday, Oct. 29

9 p.m.-10 p.m.: Stylista