LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- Paul Hewitt - Senior VP, Network Communications at The CW Network - kicked off the netlet's portion of the TCA Winter Press Tour with an unexpected announcement: "We literally just closed the deal to do a 'Veronica Mars' spin-off digital series for our digital studio CW Seed. So, actually, this is still hot off the presses. We actually have no details, no real details to give you. There's no press release, unfortunately, but I promise once we do have any info, we'll be sure to share that."
Not surprisingly, the executive session that followed saw Mark Pedowitz - President, The CW - pressed for more details about the big news. "It came about by circumstance," he said. "We heard from the Warner digital people first. They went to Rick Haskins who oversees CW Seed for us. And then, once that occurred, I picked up the phone, and I called Rob [Thomas]. He happened to be in Vegas. He was somewhat aware, and then Rob and I spoke last night, and he told me about his schedule. And I said, 'We'll take it whenever you're ready.'"
[UPDATE!] Thomas himself subsequently took to Twitter with his logline for the project: "The CW web series: a comedy featuring @HiRyanHansen attempting to put together a Dick Casablancas spin-off of #VeronicaMars. No date yet."
Beyond "Veronica Mars," Pedowitz gave status updates on its various projects, both current and in development. "Beauty and the Beast" will return from its spring hiatus at "at end of May and finish the run through the season, and then we'll make a decision come May whether or not it gets renewed. I'm very happy with the creative. I think Brad Kern has done a really good job." Pedowitz was more bullish on "Supernatural" ("As long as I'm here and those numbers still hold, God bless them. May it go as long as it wants.") and "Reign" ("The [numbers], which started a little slowly, are increasing, and it's now bettering what last year's predecessor did, which was 'Beauty and the Beast.' I'm looking forward to it returning.").
Also getting name checks were "The Carrie Diaries" ("Amy Harris did a really good job with the show this year... we'll make a decision come May whether or not it returns") and "Hart of Dixie" ("Leila Gerstein's done a really good job. Again, we'll look at what happens come May and we haven't made any decisions one way or the other.").
On the development side, Pedowitz wasn't able to say much about some of its more ballyhooed efforts: Lauren Graham's "Someday, Someday, Maybe" ("The script is in. We're looking at it. It's under consideration."); Michael Caleo's "Hourman" ("Still waiting for the script."); Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster's "Dorothy Must Die" ("The script has not yet come to me for reading, so I can't give you any indication."); and, of course, "The Flash" ("If we do launch the series, we'll launch it with a bang like we launched 'Arrow'").
Pedowitz conversely shed some light on The CW's summer plans, which include two magic shows - the just announced "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" and the revived "Masters of Illusion"; a new cycle from "America's Next Top Model"; the Canadian series "Seed" ("an interesting companion piece at some point this summer with 'Whose Line'"); and the aforementioned "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," which "will run pretty much straight through from March until beginning of October."
Not on the list: a new season of "Breaking Pointe." "We're proud of it, it did very well for us digitally," he said. "Did not do enough on air to keep it going."
And finally, Pedowitz was asked to comment on FOX's decision to end the traditional pilot season. "It's inefficient in some ways, and it's very efficient in others," he confessed. Adding, "We do not do that many pilots at CW. When we do our pilots, it has a great ratio of going to series. I think last year, we ended up doing seven pilots. Five made it to series. The year before, we did I think eight pilots. Four made no, another five made it to series. So, for us, it's a very efficient system."