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The CW 2010: It’s for dudes too

For my first blog back on A TV Calling 2.0, I will try to continue the trend talking about what teenagers like, to Alex’s great dismay.

And what they (seem to) like is The CW. Born from the merger of The WB and UPN, The CW is equally the property of Time Warner and CBS Entertainment. All of their pilots in development are produced by both their production arms, Warner Bros. TV and CBS Paramount TV. Problem is, since fall of 2006, the netlet barely produced an original hit, focusing on the sure bets of both the WB and UPN. So, it carried the last seasons of “Gilmore Girls”, “Everybody Hates Chris”, “7th Heaven”.

The only sure-fire hit born under the CW banner is “Gossip Girl”. And one can argue that this show is mainly watched by female teenagers. And yes, this season has brought us “The Vampire Diaries”, who is also targeting the same female viewership, and whose showrunners’ mission is to try and not resemble “Twilight” too much. If you think I’m joking, go read this Paley Festival recap.

But for this fourth season on air, both those hits can be attributed to luck, and hide a network who has trouble expanding the soap-opera fare, and more crucially, beyond female viewers. It brought back “90210” last year and “Melrose Place” this year, but the scandal-ridden storylines barely mesmerized viewers. One is struggling in its second season, and suffered a showrunner switch in the middle of the first season, and the other returned last week to catastrophic ratings. It’s not expected to make it past this season, a shame when you know the original series lasted seven seasons.

So Dawn Ostroff, The CW’s President of Entertainment, decided to take drastic measures: having male viewers back to The CW. What better than a highly-trained female assassin played by the cutie from Die Hard 4? Yep, “La Femme Nikita” is about to be resurrected with Maggie Q as the lead. And Lyndsy Fonseca (“Desperate Housewives”, the upcoming “Kick-Ass”) is to play her hunter, a 19-year old felon that makes a deal with a secret organization (what else?) to escape a lengthy prison sentence. It sounds good and all, but don’t forget that they can make it lighter, a la “Alias”, than the original USA Network show. But ass-kicking females playing cat and mouse is sure to bring back boys to the yard.

Another pilot, still untitled and penned by Amy Sherman-Palladino, centers on a hunky horse trainer that becomes the patriarch of his parent’s Wyoming ranch after the parents die. And “Nomads”, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, features globetrotters working undercover missions for the CIA. This last one sounds more FOX-like than CW-like. But it’s all about finding a hit outside their comfort zone, or this could spell the end of Dawn Ostroff’s tenure of the netlet.
Or it could be just a bluff move, where none of the shows are picked up and Ostroff’s people decide to go with companion shows to “Vampire Diaries”, like “Betwixt”, or “Grey’s Anatomy”-lite like “HMS” (Harvard Medical School).

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