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TCA: Dawn Ostroff calls for every viewer to be counted on The CW

July 19, 2008 |  1:27 pm


Dawn Ostroff, The CW’s entertainment president, seemed to be channeling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Saturday as she discussed the network’s frustration that the ratings for “Gossip Girl” haven’t reflected the show’s huge pop culture presence.

“Every viewer must be counted and no viewer should be left behind,” Ostroff said earnestly, drawing chuckles from the assembled television critics.

But it’s no laughing matter for The CW, which is heading into a make-or-break junior year. Network executives hope “Gossip Girl” and similarly glossy additions like “90210” and “Privileged” will gain traction with viewers this season.

If not, queried reporters, isn’t the network in trouble?

Ostroff swatted away the suggestion that The CW faces a deadline to improve its performance, saying, “We all feel we’re on our way.”

To that end, she announced the network had picked up a horror-theme reality series for midseason called “13 -– Fear is Real” that she described as “the Blair Witch Project as a reality show.”

In the show, a group of young people compete in creepy challenges in the Louisiana bayous. The clip reel featured gory images of chainsaws, mutilated dolls, knives and hooks, with a distorted voice-over threatening that losing contestants will be killed off.

“You know, we’ll do anything for attention here at The CW,” Ostroff joked.

If this season falls flat, network executives are already planning a new strategy for next year: launching the schedule in the summer instead of the fall.

By premiering its shows in July or August, The CW could hopefully garner more attention than in September, when it faces a crush of competition from the bigger broadcast networks, Ostroff said.

“The idea is to just get out of the fray,” she said, adding: “We really feel we need to zig when everyone else is zagging.”

-- Matea Gold