CW's Mark Pedowitz On 'Selection', 'Battle Royale' Development Plans, Digital Route With Comedy, Shorter Drama Orders: TCA

The CW remains high on the concept of young people battling each other. The network last season developed the Hunger Games-esque The Selection, an adaptation of Kiera Cass’ book. The project went to pilot but didn’t make the cut to series. “I’m a big believer (in the concept)”, the CW’s president Mark Pedowitz said during the CW’s TCA executive session. “The producers did a very good job, but it wasn’t where we wanted to be tone-wise, we wanted it to have a Hunger Games/Game Of Thrones-type tone.” Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, who wrote the original pilot, are back rewriting it.

While Selection is still in the works, the CW also is looking to put a development a series version of the 2000 cult Japanese movie Battle Royale, Pedowitz confirmed, stressing that talks are very preliminary. The film is about a group of school children sent to an island where, on the government’s orders, they must kill each other until one remains. Asked about the rationale behind going after such a violent premise involving school-age kids shooting and killing other kids, especially in the current environment, Pedowitz said that “we’re not planning anything that we cannot get on the air; we won’t go in that direction.”

After the session, Pedowitz noted that his team is in conversation with Warner Bros TV about more projects based on DC properties to join new drama Arrow. “Even if Arrow does not work — and I hope it does work for a lot of reasons — we plan to continue developing comic characters,” he said.

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The CW continues to be interested in bringing back comedy series to the network, but the plan is being put on the back burner until “we stabilize the schedule,” Pedowitz said. Last season, the network developed eight half-hour scripts. It held onto two of them — an adaptation of the 2009 British comedy FM and the Craig Zadan- and Neil Meron-produced Swordfighting — for midseason consideration. Now Pedowitz said there will be no movement on the comedy front until after the CW fall lineup premieres but the network will continue to selectively buy comedy pitches. He also said that, instead of going down the traditional pilot route,we may do it through digital,” testing comedies online before making a decision whether to migrate them to TV.

Doing yet another postmortem on cancelled Sarah Michelle Gellar drama Ringer, Pedowitz noted that “22 episodes a season may be too many” for a heavily serialized drama, with six or 13 probably more manageable. (New CW serialized drama Cult will run a 13-episode first season.) Pedowitz also repeated his statement from the upfront that the CW has invited Gellar to come back to the network as an actress or producer.

Pedowitz was asked about the CW’s ratings woes (the network recently earned a 0.0 overnight rating for a repeat of 90210). He reiterated that overnight ratings have little meaning for the network. “We look at it through an aggregation, (including digital platforms)”, he said. “We can measure who’s watching us on digital, but it does not count with the Nielsen ratings.” (more…)

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