Last January, long before the coronavirus pandemic crippled the country — and Hollywood — the CW gave straight-to-series orders to its two strongest contenders for a pilot pickup, Superman & Lois and Walker. Four months later, the CW handed straight-to-series orders to two more projects, Kung Fu, which had shot some pilot footage before the March industrywide production shutdown, and The Republic of Sarah.
This January, with the pandemic still raging amid another deadly wave of infections, the CW is seriously considering not doing pilots and instead going with straight-to-series orders, about 3-4, the network’s chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz told Deadline. But that won’t signal a seismic change in the broadcast network model at the CW, the veteran TV executive noted.
“First part of the answer is, I believe in pilots, I believe you see things in pilots,” he said. “Second part of the answer — we are faced with a production issue, and you may not have a real opportunity because financially, it’s easier to go straight to series. So we may probably move in that direction this yer again not for any other reason but to get them up and going because you don’t know what is going to happen next; if you believe in a show, you should go forward. I believe pilot process should be alive, but it may be a financial issue.”
Broadcast development is designed to yield new series that replace the network’s weakest existing ones. But, because of the pandemic-related production shutdown, the CW opted to launch its regular lineup in January instead of fall, so its original scripted series are yet to roll out.
“The challenge for us is we haven’t seen anything, we don’t know how they will perform,” Pedowitz said. “I’m not going to have a cense until at least end of march mid April when I have to. But that time we need to order things anyway.”
Because of all the uncertainty, the CW is expected to bring back the vast majority of its established series, possibly all except the two whose pending end has been announced, Supergirl and Black Lightning.
Pedowitz said that he is just now starting to get pilot scripts and it’s too early to anoint frontrunners. Some projects that have been garnering early buzz include the Greg Berlanti-produced Wonder Girl and another DC drama, Ava DuVernay’s Naomi.
Additionally, the CW has two high-profile planted spinoffs coming up, the Nancy Drew offshoot Tom Swift and Black Lightning spinoff Painkiller. The rumored All American spinoff backdoor pilot also is happening, I hear.
Additionally, rolled 2020 pilots The Lost Boys, a longtime passion project for Pedowitz, and Maverick, remain in contention, along with The 100 prequel, which was introduced on the final season of the mothership series. The network has been in conversations with HBO Max to potentially partner on the project.