Magazine article Variety

Top Producers Dish on Hit Series

Magazine article Variety

Top Producers Dish on Hit Series

Article excerpt

The CW achieved early success by cleverly using the seductive wealth of "Gossip Girl" to court young female viewers. Since then, it has broadened its appeal with a mixture of superhero shows and rom-coms.

Here, five of the network's top producers reflect on why their hit series were the right fit for the emerging network. They all credit network president Mark Pedowitz for being closely involved, while fostering a creative atmosphere.

GREG BERLANTI

"Arrow," "The Flash," "Supergirl"

Berlanti should probably wear his own superhero cape, considering his five shows on the CW this season. He worked at ABC with Pedowitz, who lured Berlanti to the new network by assuring him he could make the shows he wanted there.

"Arrow" was fresh in that it was a new era of comic-book TV. A lot of the people - leading with someone like [director] David Nutter - gave it a cinematic look and showed how shows could live up to films and be very exciting. We always saw "Arrow" as an adventure serial.

Critical to all those shows' success is the casting. Stephen Amell was a real star waiting to happen; everyone saw that, and the network smartly exploited it. It helped us build everything else. We didn't have a grand plan of doing this many DC shows. It was brick by brick, and it really started with "Arrow."

There are echoes back to the old WB. People do associate certain kinds of television with certain kinds of networks - hopefully really heartfelt, smart, genre shows. Going back to "Smallville" and "Supernatural" - they had been on both networks [WB, and then the CW], and they set a standard and an appetite for the audience. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" may have had a young entry point but still could be for everyone.

One thing that's helpful is everyone involved in these shows treats them like character shows, not superhero shows. They're character journeys, and that's a large part of why the characters are so relatable. Good storytelling is really for everybody.

JENNIE SNYDER URMAN

"Jane the Virgin," "Emily Owens, M.D."

Urman has been with the CW from the start, as a writer for the final season of "Gilmore Girls," then with "90210." Before "Jane the Virgin"- the network's first series to earn a Golden Globe and Peabody - she created "Emily Owens, M.D."

They liked ["Emily Owens"] and tried to support it. It wasn't hitting the mark. When people were looking for a straightforward procedural, that wasn't what they were looking for.

When I started at the CW, it was a lot more highschool shows. They wanted to age it up and have a broader base of appeal. And then the shows started to change - not high-school dramas as much as a little more adult and a little more whimsical. Even the superheroes.

["Jane the Virgin"] is different from other things that were on TV. The cast is particularly effervescent and dynamic, and spoke to the audience they were trying to reach. They liked the light, comic, fairytale world, and it had a bigger concept than a straightforward procedural. It had that little, magical, extra something that makes it not just a slice of life, but a slice of life with fairy dust on it.

My ideal "Jane the Virgin" audience is, like, a 16-year-old daughter and a 40-year-old mom watching together - I always wanted mothers and daughters watching together.

STEPHANIE SAVAGE AND JOSH SCHWARTZ

"Gossip Girl," "Hart of Dixie"

Savage and Schwartz have worked together since "The OC. …

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