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CW bets on more beauty

May 21, 2009 | 12:34 pm

Last season was do or die for the CW -- and it did not die. The two scripted shows the young network needed the most, the freshman “90210” and the sophomore “Gossip Girl,” both succeeded well enough to show that the CW can reach its target audience of 18- to 34-year-old women as well as create a brand. And veteran series “One Tree Hill,” “Supernatural” and “America’s Next Top Model” continued to perform well.

Next season, the network, which canceled its only comedies, “The Game” and “Everybody Hates Chris,” will air only dramas and reality shows starring young, attractive people in alluring settings. The network announced three new dramas for fall and one for midseason, and will order new reality series for midseason, CW President Dawn Ostroff said during a news conference after her presentation to advertisers at Madison Square Garden. (See fall schedule here.)

“Honestly, I think we’ve had a lot of disappointments in comedy,” Ostroff said. “It’s not to say that we couldn’t find the right comedy. But we did several shows, like ‘Chris’ and ‘Aliens in America’ which we were really proud of. We thought they were different. They were about something. The writing was wonderful, and we just couldn’t make a go of it. So we decided to stick with what’s working for us now and then at maybe some point later on, we will branch out.”

Of the new series, the most highly anticipated is the remake of “Melrose Place,” the Fox hit and spinoff of the original, “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Fans of the Heather Locklear-starring series will be pleased about the return of Laura Leighton, as the resurrected Sydney — does anyone really die on TV anymore? — and Thomas Calabro as Michael Mancini. From the clip shown at Madison Square Garden, there is a love triangle of sorts involving Sydney, Michael and his son, and a death in the pool. “Melrose Place” will air on Tuesdays after “90210.”

Also on the fall roster is “The Beautiful Life” set in the high-fashion modeling world and, yes, it’s full of beautiful people. “The Vampire Diaries” is centered on two vampire brothers vying for the same woman and, again, the cast also is very good-looking. But, despite the attractive nature of the casts, and the seemingly glamorous worlds that surround most of them, which is in keeping with “Gossip Girl” and “90210,” Ostroff said each series was distinct tonally. “The Vampire Diaries” is set in a small town, and the models in “The Beautiful Life” hail from Middle America  and are struggling to make it in the New York rat race, she said.

Ostroff also ordered a midseason drama, “Parental Discretion Advised,” which is set in Portland and is the story of a 16-year-old girl who has lived in the foster system her whole life and finds her biological parents, who had her when they were in high school, because she wants to be emancipated.

The CW will probably pick up another midseason drama, but Ostroff said she wanted to wait to see how the season plays out before making a decision.The network developed six drama pilots, including the “Gossip Girl” spinoff, starring Brittany Snow, which aired as part of a “Gossip Girl” episode two weeks ago and was not received very well by fans. That series could still make an appearance next year, she said. “Privileged” and “Reaper” have been canceled.

“We were nervous about shooting so many pilots but every one of the pilots was a tough contender for us,” she said. “They all were really, really good. We do have room for another midseason show. In all honesty, the ‘Gossip Girl’ spinoff is the show that we’d love to find a place for as the season goes on. But we have to take a minute and see where we are.”

Although it’s been reported that “Smallville,” which will air on Fridays, will enter its ninth and final season next year, Ostroff said that decision had not been made, and she hoped the show could continue for more seasons.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

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