LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "People are tweeting about The CW once a minute," Dawn Ostroff, the network's president, touted during her executive session at the TCA summer press tour yesterday. "And that's not me sitting in my office, tweeting alone."
Said stat was one of many the netlet chief noted about its success beyond its Nielsen numbers (up 77% on Monday nights and 26% on Tuesday nights among young women). "We've had over 200 million video streams on cwtv.com. 'Gossip Girl' has nearly one and a half million fans on Facebook. 'One Tree Hill' has more than a million fans on Facebook."
Ostroff nevertheless was confronted about several of The CW's failures and the status of various projects:
On "Smallville's" move to Friday nights: "Friday night for us is almost -- this
is the first year we're actually migrating all of our
viewers over to Friday night, because prior to this,
it had always been sort of a standalone night."
On if this is "Smallville's" last season: "I hope it's not the last season. I
think the producers have done a great job coming up
with really good storylines this year. Zod is going
to be the big villain and Clark has got to save the
world, so we're all going to be kneeling to Zod. But
I do think that the show still has a lot of life left
in it. The cast is very excited, as are the
producers, so we have high hopes for it staying on the
air for a while."
On if this is "Supernatural's" last season: "We hope 'Supernatural'
will go on. I mean Eric Kripke's done a great job
with the show creatively. The show has gotten
stronger every year. The cast is wonderful, so we're
hopeful that it will stay on the air for a long time."
On the failure of its Sunday programming: "We tried something
new, something different, which I think is one of the
great things about being this young network. We
really get to try different things and experiment.
But ultimately, a couple of things happened. The
programming wasn't working. The economy was taking a
big turn, and I think it just made a lot of sense for
us, as well as for our affiliates, to give back the
night and for us really to focus on Monday through
Friday, which is really where our bread and butter is
and where we know we can migrate all of our viewers
across the schedule."
On if the "Gossip Girl" spin-off is still in the works: "Not right now. It doesn't look like
On if the pilot "Body Politic" is still in the works: "No. It's dead. We had a -- I've
been doing this for a long time, and I've never
been in a situation where literally every pilot we
shot this year could have made it on the schedule.
They were just great pilots. We had a really
difficult time deciding what was going to fit on
the network. It was almost like a 'Sophie's
Choice.' As much as we all loved 'Body Politic,'
it just didn't -- we just didn't go with it."
On the health of "The Beautiful Life" co-star Mischa Barton: "We were just concerned that she would be able
to be ready for production. She was. Not even an
issue... She started work. There's
been no issues. We're happy that she's better.
What went on in her personal life is a personal
On if they'll try sitcoms again: "I think women are probably very
interested in sitcoms. I just don't know if we
can do sitcoms that are loud enough, noisy enough
to get the attention that we're able to get with
the dramas and with some of the reality shows."
The netlet also held panels for its four newcomers this season, highlights of which follow:
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: "I worried a lot. I was like, 'Oh, God, we're the ripoff. That's so great.' No one wants to do that. And I actually said, like, 'No way,'" executive producer Kevin Williamson told reporters about the "Twilight"-sized elephant in the room. "And then we read the books." Co-star Paul Wesley likewise feared the comparison, noting "I specifically went out of my way to not watch 'Twilight' because I didn't want it to in any way influence me because I knew that it was a similar subject matter." Williamson however was quick to point out the differences between the two will become more apparent in the upcoming episodes: "We're really sort of
telling the story about a small town and all the sort
of evil that's sort of -- this darkness that sort of
lies underneath this town and how this vampire comes
to town and sort of stirs it all up."
Fellow executive producer Bob Levy also added that the series will only pull from the first three books as "by the fourth book the series goes to a different direction." The L.J. Smith-penned novels however will continue on in its own separate universe. As for what drew them to the project, executive producer Julie Plec praised the character of Stefan ("It's to me in my head if Jordan Catalano was a vampire or Dylan McKay.") as well as the unique process in which people become vampires in their mythology ("It is not, 'Oh, you are bitten and,
therefore, you are now the undead.' There is a choice
element to it. There is an actual choice element when
you are reborn, in order for you to make the turn you
have to feed.")
THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE: The status of Mischa Barton was not surprisingly a hot topic with executive producer Ashton Kutcher quickly pointing out "Mischa's in New York working today on the show... she was never unavailable for a day of work." Corbin Bleu likewise drew questions about his transition from the "High School Musical" franchise. He revealed his character Isaac was actually a child model who is having trouble being accepted in the profession as a adult, partly due to his height. "Isaac is [also] actually a musician... he's going to always have that battle back and forth
between doing the music, doing what he really wants to
do, what he loves doing, and then trying to make it
successful in the modeling world, which can really,
truly help him in the music world as well." He also added that "there's
actually an interesting storyline with a nice little
sugar momma that's coming up."
As for the draw of the show itself, Kutcher points out it's an industry that "puts the
new thing, the next big new thing on the pedestal, so
there's a lot of drama in that. Most of us work in
industries that the longer you've been there, the more
wisdom that you have, the more integrity you have in
the workplace. The fashion industry is always about
the next big thing, so the longer you've been there
isn't necessarily the good thing, and so I think we're
going to find a lot of drama in that as well."
Kutcher also addressed the challenges of being a producer of both digital and broadcast content. "I do think that the two
will merge. I do think that there is a certain
point in time when we, as an industry, figure out
the economics of digital media and advertisers
start to understand the digital landscape and the
impact that it can have on an audience and the
engagement that the audience has on that platform,
but the ad dollars will gradual shift over into
that medium, at which point in time we, as a
business, can become more financially sound, and
then we can start to figure out how the unions are
going to cut up the pie. Then we can actually
start an industry of digital media that will
converge with television."
MELROSE PLACE: Executive producers Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin said that in addition to Laura Leighton and Thomas Calabro they're more than open to other original cast members returning. "Josie Bissett is shooting as we speak,
and she is great," Slavkin revealed. "She is coming back as Sydney's sister
so that felt organic to us bringing her back. And
that's really what's important to us when bringing
alumni back to the show is, "Does it feel organic? Does
it not feel contrived?" Daphne Zuniga is coming up in a
terrific role we are thrilled about. And Jo Reynolds
will be back with a vengeance and I think she will fit
in very, very nicely in the storyline we have for her.
And we have plans -- last night I got to talk to Grant
Show and that was very exciting. So stuff is brewing,
definitely." Lisa Rinna and Heather Locklear were likewise brought up by reporters however nothing is in the works just yet. Not so lucky is Shooters, the original hangout of the parent series. "I think that Shooters is under new
management somewhere," Swimmer said. "And there's no plans now to revisit it.
In terms of the revival itself, Swimmer noted the murder of Leighton's character "won't be milked out for an
entire season, but it will go over several episodes.
But one thing that we will be doing is the idea of
mystery and suspense and intrigue is very much a part
of the overall tone of the show. And so whether or
not an initial murder is solved, there will still be
plenty of mystery and suspense and some crime elements
and fun stuff like that to keep going that we'll keep
continuing through the life of the series." Leighton herself will also stick around from beyond the grave. "We're huge fans of
noir, and Sunset Boulevard is one of our favorite
films," Slavkin added. "And we thought it would be a very interesting
idea with Sydney Andrews, is we tell her story in the
past, how it affects our current characters beyond
just the murder mystery because she's involved with
all these characters in very deep ways. And we kind
of uncover that as the series moves on. She still
plays a strong part in everyone's lives." The showrunners also added that Nicolas Gonzalez's detective character will continue to recur and to also "keep watching very shortly" for a gay character in addition to Katie Cassidy's "try-sexual" Ella ("which [means] she will try anything," Slavkin quipped).
LIFE UNEXPECTED: Several reporters cracked that the midseason entry may be designed for a network [The WB] that doesn't exist anymore. "Yeah, that's a very fair question," said creator Liz Tigelaar. "I
mean, I think, you know, many of us -- Janet [Leahy], Kerr [Smith],
Shiri [Appleby], myself -- come from kind of the old WB, so I
feel like even though there might not be a show like
this that exists on CW right this second, obviously,
'Gilmore Girls,' which made the jump that Janet was a
part of, did. And I think that it's a testament to CW
and branching out a little bit."
Tigelaar also addressed the multitude of names attached to the project, which began as "Light Years" ("We tested and everyone thought
it was a sci fi show."), became "Lux" ("We couldn't call it [that] because I think Alloy had something called "Lux" already."), then "Parental Discretion Advised" ("I
don't know exactly -- I think it maybe sounded a little
more sitcomy, like maybe it didn't have much weight to
it.") before finally settling on "Life UneXpected" ("[It] tested the very highest,
so we were really happy calling it that.").