CW network detours yet again


Any visit to the CW network  brings mixed feeling. This has been the network of slick, sleek shows for young adults; it's also been the network of "H8R," clearly the low moment for television in this millennium.

Now CW offers some interesting switches and detours. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

LOS ANGELES – After six years of
dodging the big guys, the CW network still keeps switching direction.

That's especially true now. For the
first time, CW has:

– A summer schedule – albeit not
one with many viewers. That has already included new reality shows
and a new, Canadian-import drama; coming are a slight variation on
“Amercian Idol” (Aug. 16) plus “America's Next Top Model:
College Edition” (Aug. 24).

– With those summer shows filling the
gap, a chance to delay the fall season until October. In the past, CW
started is early September, then “lost traction” as soon as the
competition arrived, Mark Pedowitz, the CW president, said Monday.
Now the starts will range from Oct. 2 to Oct, 19. “This will allow
us to avoid the clutter,” he said; also, reruns will be rare.

– Occasional specials and
youth-appeal movies. On Oct. 9, CW has the network debut of “Dr.
Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,” an Internet favorite for four years.

– And a bigger change: A network
known for bright, female-oriented shows is adding two darkly lit
dramas with angry and muscular action men.

“Gossip Girls” – the show that
symbolized CW's young-female look – returns on Oct.8 to start its
final, 10-week mini-season. Any long-running CW show will get a
chance for a full exit strategy, Pedowitz promised, “just as we did
with 'One Tree Hill.'”

There will be two female-oriented shows
at mid-season, one catching the early years of the “Sex and the
City” character. And Oct. 16 brings the debut of “Emily Owens,
M.D.,” with a star-making role for Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep's
daughter), as a doctor who fears she'll never be one of the cool
kids.

Still, the other two new CW shows –
“Arrow” and “Beauty and the Beast” – are in another mode.
Each has a man who was thought to be dead, but now has extraordinary
powers. He has a dark lair, avenges evil and is considered a killer,
but a slender brunette beauty gradually trusts him. “They're a
little bit different (from each other) in my mind,” Pedowitz
insisted.

Viewers can decide about that in
October. For now, the summer has:

– “The L.A. Complex,” about
likable young Canadians, scrambling to break into Los Angeles show
business. Ratings have been miniscule, but Pedowitz said things are
better Online. The show (9 p.m. Tuesdays, rerunning at 9
p.m.Thursdays) will show its 10 remaining episodes, he said.

– Reality shows . Two – set at a
Miami resort and a ballet company – died quickly; “Remodeled,”
set at modeling agencies, is currently in reruns, at 9 p.m. Mondays.

– The early start for “America's
Next Top Model.” This edition has 13 women from schools ranging
from Liberty University to the Harvard Divinity School.

– And “The Next,” which may seem
familiar.

For the first six weeks, the “Next”
mentors – Gloria Estefan, Joe Jonas, John Rich and Nelly – will
spend three days in a city, each nurturing one talent. The singers
will collide in Los Angeles, with one winning an Atlantic Records
deal.

The live episodes will be Sept. 27,
Oct, 2 and Oct. 4 – leading into CW's late-starting season.