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TCA Press Tour: CW president emphasizes empowerment

July 29, 2010 |  3:45 pm

Go figure that the little CW network would be the one boasting about longevity.

"Who would have thought that I would be the last one standing?" asked CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff, who was introduced to the laptop-keyboard tapping masses at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Thursday afternoon as "the longest-serving network president." 

Ostroff said she's been in the job nine years. The former Lifetime TV executive spent five years running the UPN broadcast network before it was merged four years ago with the competing WB.  It was a fitting bit of trivia for the summer press tour, which kicked off this week in the wake of the sudden resignation of Steve McPherson from his job as ABC entertainment president.

Dawncat The programming service that started life four years ago trying to explain what in the heck a CW was (Gimme a C for CBS!  Give me a W for Warner Bros!) is headed into its fifth season.  Take that Wall Street Journal, which a few years ago predicted the network, a jointly owned by CBS Corp. and Warner Bros., was a step or two away from the TV graveyard.

"We've come a long way in four short years," Ostroff — the first and only CW president — told the group.  "We are firmly entrenched in the zeitgeist for our young viewers."

Indeed. The CW is alive and kicking — with vampires, super heroes, "Gossip Girl" and now a reluctant cheerleader ("Hellcats") and "Nikita," a rogue CIA agent starring Maggie Q, who in one scene wears a bikini, spike heels and brandishes a poolside chair to deck a scary dude with a gun.

"We had been trying to develop a female empowerment action-adventure show for a couple of seasons," Ostroff said. The treatment for "Nikita," she said, "felt more realistic than a lot of the scripts that we had read."  It was a bonus that the show was developed long before the feds busted the ring of Russian spies.  Said Ostroff:  "We didn't know that we were going to be quite as current as we are."

— Meg James

Photo of CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff by John Filo; courtesy the CW

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