TCA 2008: CW President Dawn Ostroff Talks

By: Kevin Kelly, Special TCA Correspondent

President Dawn Ostroff kicked off Saturday’s Television Critics Press Tour CW executive panel by introducing us to an entirely new reality show called 13 – FEAR IS REAL [or as we at like to call it, the cancelled EVERWOOD, VERONICA MARS and JACK & BOBBY for this!] They’re pitching it as “THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT as a reality show.” Aye carumba. This was interesting when it was called SAW, or SAW 2, or SAW 3, or SAW 4. A mysterious computer-distorted voice comes on and lets us know that 13 contestants will be “Playing a game for me.” They’re “killed off,” one by one, and the final survivor wins. $66,666 dollars. Ostroff quipped, “We’ll do anything for attention here at The CW!” Funny, I really believe that.

Someone popped a hard hitting question wondering if Ostroff was worried about the economic downturn in the country having a negative affect on shows like 90210, PRIVILEGED, and GOSSIP GIRL, and she compared the current situation to the 1980s when shows like DYNASTY and DALLAS were doing well amidst a poor economy. I’m too young to remember if that was true or not, but they’d better hope that people retain a voracious appetite for the drunken antic of underaged rich kids.

The gap between GOSSIP GIRL’s media attention, vs. the number of viewers was pointed out, and Ostroff was pretty impressed by the disconnect between the “perceived” audience, and the affect that the show was having on the marketplace. She’d read a story in the New York Times that when a new item appears on the show, it immediately sells out in Bloomingdale’s. She chalked it up to the antiquated Nielsen ratings sytem, and wants to move to a new method of tracking ratings. “No viewer should be left behind,” she claimed.

The CW is kicking their Fall season off a bit early this year, with a premiere of GOSSIP GIRL and ONE TREE HILL on Monday, September 1st, which is about three weeks earlier than all of the other networks. They’ve even been discussing launching the season during the summer next year, and shooting their pilots in October/November. “We need to do things a little bit differently” in order to help them stand out on their own against the Big Four (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX). It’ll mean filling in part of the schedule with repeats and some other sort of filler. Does this mean we’re on the way to a year-long television schedule sometime?

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  • What’s 13-Fear is Real? I’m confused….

  • Sean

    It’s a new reality series, produced by Sam Raimi, that the CW had earlier announced would be a “summer series.” Yeah. So much for that. Big cheapos. The show puts 13 contestants in very scary situations, a la Blair Witch, I suppose, and they’re “killed” off one by one. The last person left wins $66,666.

    Guess it’ll come at midseason now. My guess is it will be paired with Reaper or Smallville/Supernatural when one of the shows goes on repeat/hiatus.

  • tim wilkins

    Can the CW compete against the BIG 4? Maybe the schedule change can get them noticed, but no one’s going to watch unless it’s WATCHABLE. This 13 Fear for Real? Sounds like “must not see TV to me.”

  • Um… why has no one commented on Dawn Ostroff’s ridiculous face?

    I know Daniel has an obligation not to be so petty, but what’s the rest of your excuses? Look at the woman’s FACE! lol

  • That sounds like a pretty interesting twist on the tired old reality genre. Since they compared it to Blair Witch Project, I think I will have to watch now. Good move, CW. I’ve been waiting for you to come up with something interesting.

  • Sam

    Hey Dawn….do you find it ODD that so many (gasp!) MEN are leaving comments here about your network? Frankly, lady, I don’t know how you keep your job. Ya see, MEN like watching TV, too. Didn’t you know that? Young men, too. Yeah. That’s right. So you really *iss us off when you decide to program only to chicks. How many CoverGirl ads can you sell? Will it support your network? Man, you are about as shortsighted and ignorant as they come, baby.

  • showtime

    That 13 Fear is Real show reminds me of “Murder in Small Town X”

  • shamangrrl

    Sam, please don’t think that Dawn programs only for women. She mainly programs for 13-year old girls. As a female who is well over that age, I can honestly say that 13 – Fear Is Real sounds horrible. There’s only one show worth watching on the CW, and it isn’t Gossip Girl or Priviledged or any of that other dreck. But then again, I’m not in her demographic any more than you are, so I don’t suppose Dawn cares about my opinion, either.

  • Jessica

    I’ve met dawn before, and she is far from what you have depicted in your oh so forward comments. I don’t see you calling the shots. 13 fear is real looks pretty “not girl” bias… so, give it a rest and we’ll all check it out together!

  • Darrell

    The CW network sucks, I thought SyFy was the worst for canceling shows but CW have killed so many TV shows that could and would have been massive, I have no idea how a tv network can survive after pulling everything decent of its schedule, Aquaman / Mercy Reef was the final straw for me, Justin Hartley portrayed A.C perfectly and still they cancel after a pilot, I hope CW goes down in flames, your a burden to your “selective” audience.