Buffy's back! Sarah Michelle Gellar reunited with the network where she slayed her first vampire on Thursday, presenting her new show “Ringer” during the CW’s presentation of its fall schedule in New York. And judging by the Facebook comments that flashed on the screen before a preview clip from the series aired, Gellar’s fans were pretty psyched. As one girl so eloquently stated: “OMG! OMG! SMG!”
Right now, the CW is banking on that excitement to give it a boost from last year. The freshman entries it unveiled back then, “Nikita” and “Hellcats,” never quite became hits. (“Nikita” will get another chance next season, but “Hellcats” has already been canceled.) But the network still pulls in plenty of women and viewers 18-34, especially with “Gossip Girl” and “90210,” and this year it’s using those shows as lead-ins for more original programming, starring some familiar faces. Gellar’s following “90210” on Tuesday nights with “Ringer,” a thriller about a woman who hides from her killer by posing as her own twin sister. And Rachel Bilson of “The O.C.” will follow “Gossip Girl” on Monday nights with “Hart of Dixie,” a comedic drama about a New York City doctor who starts a practice in small-town Alabama (think “Everwood” meets “Sweet Home Alabama”). Meanwhile, Snooki and Kim Kardashian will pop up during the Wednesday night “America’s Next Top Model”-anchored reality block with “H8R,” where they’ll face off with the regular folks who can’t stand them and try to win over some fans. Celebrity charity work will be cited, and if that doesn’t work, tears may be shed.
Appealing to more young viewers was clearly on the minds of CW executives Thursday as break dancers head-spun on stage and party-rock group LMFAO sang a song called (yes) “Party Rock Anthem.” Rob Tuck, the CW’s executive vice president of national sales, even gamely danced onto the stage in an LMFAO-style gold jacket and a giant robot mask. And Tyra Banks showed up, both to introduce a forthcoming all-star version of “America’s Next Top Model” (which encourages the models to dance and act) and to praise incoming CW President Mark Pedowitz, who’ll take over the fall schedule, replacing 10-year chief Dawn Ostroff. “I love Mark,” said Banks. “He says, ‘Tyra, I’m gonna be real for you. For real, for real.’” For real, Tyra?
Two of the CW’s most successful show runners remained loyal to the network during the fall season: Josh Schwartz of “The O.C.” brought in “Hart of Dixie,” and Kevin Williamson of “Vampire Diaries” will helm “The Secret Circle,” which follows “Diaries” on Thursday. (“Nikita” and “Supernatural” round out the schedule on Friday.) Based on a series of novels penned by “Vampire Diaries” scribe L.J. Smith, the series focuses on a teenage girl (Brittany Robertson of “Scream 4”) who moves to the town of New Salem, where she discovers that she’s a witch. Set in a very lush green town that looks suspiciously like the backdrop for “Twilight,” the show finds her battling mean girls who literally form a coven with the power to wield good or evil. And you thought your high school was bad.
“One Tree Hill,” which is approaching its final season, will hold until midseason, when the CW will expand its reality programming with two series: “The Frame,” a “Big Brother”-like competition that puts contestants under 24-hour surveillance while they complete challenges, and “Re-Modeled,” a Bravo-style makeover show for modeling agencies in small towns. The crowd’s response to these series felt tepid compared to applause that “Ringer” warranted, but earlier in the presentation, Sarah Michelle Gellar remained upbeat about the whole schedule, insisting that she was glad to join the network that she watches most herself. “Maybe I can finally get some ‘Gossip Girl’ spoilers,” she joked. OMG! OMG! SMG!
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-- Melissa Maerz
Photo: Snooki. Credit: Elisabetta Villa / Getty Images.