Upfronts: The CW

And MiC's on-the-scene coverage of the New York upfronts wraps up with a final look at what's on The CW for the seasons ahead. This report also comes from Sylvia Criger, managing partner of Toronto-based MBS.

The CW (a merger between the former WB and UPN networks) is known as the ‘coolest’ network and today’s presentation reinforced their reputation. It started the morning with a fashion show and Jamba juice with croissants, bagels, fruit bowls and of course, coffee for the bleary-eyed media buyers. A nice treat for all.

The show opened with the Pussycat Dolls (skinny girls wearing fishnets) singing their hit Don’t you Wish your Girlfriend was Hot Like Me, well received by the crowd even at that early hour. Next up was Tyra Banks (no, she’s not fat!) with her top models on stage – also warmly applauded by the largely male audience. The CW attracts the younger 18-34 demo and they do a great job at it.

New from the CW is Gossip Girl, a teen soap created by The OC‘s producer. It’s about a group of rich Manhattan teens based on the best selling book series. Lots of catfights, boy fights, gossip, parties, sex…what’s not to like? It includes many digital media initiatives, including a 3D virtual world where you can create your own avatar, click to buy fashions on the show, download songs, and make your own videos in their lab to send to mobile devices and billboards in Times Square.

CW Now, another new entry, is about trends, fashion, celebrity gossip and what’s hot now, and will air without ads, instead, relying instead on brand integration opportunities. Online Nation, another debut, uses content from viewers who send in their own internet videos – some are pretty funny and even crude – sure to be a success with the younger demo. It will air Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Life is Wild is a real family show airing Sundays at 8 p.m. It’s a great escape program about an entire family uprooting to move to South Africa for a year after the mother dies and the father remarries. Lots of typical teen angst in a beautiful setting.

There are a few reality (unscripted) offerings including Farmer Wants a Wife (no explanation required) and Crowned. This one’s about beauty pageants, but the trick is mother and daughter teams. Eleven sets compete for the title and a cash prize – Carson Kressley is one of the judges so be prepared for caustic repartee.

One of the funniest sitcoms to date is Aliens in America about a loser 16 year-old who imports an exchange student as a friend. He gets a Muslim student from Pakistan, which makes his life worse at school, but they start to get along and understand each other’s view on life.

Reaper is another funny sitcom, Tuesday at 9 pm, about a slacker boy who finds out that his parents sold his soul to the devil when he was born. When he turns 21, the devil turns up and he has to become a bounty hunter for escaped souls – it was laugh out loud funny, one of my favourites.

Many of the CW hits are back including Everybody Hates Chris, where Chris Rock actually appears as a guidance counselor at the school.

The CW’s presentation was fresh and welcome with more ambitious programming than before. Many of the networks appear to be taking bigger chances this year with their programming – a great trend which we hope will continue!