TCA: CW, Showtime wrap it up

The cast of "Cult" at TCA.
The cast of “Cult” at TCA.

The CW recently took the stage as the TCA tour winds down:

CW President Mark Pedowitz addressed critics at the press tour, including updates on current shows and those in development. Pedowitz said CW is in the reality business to stay despite two of those series – Breaking Pointe and Oh Sit are drawing few viewers. As far as renewals go, Pedowitz said Supernatural’s prospects are looking good; Hart of Dixie and Nikita are growing; and believes new drama Carrie Diaries would fill the void left by the now-retired Gossip Girl. Oddly enough, Pedowitz did not mention the status of America’s Next Top Model, which is scheduled to return this summer.

Pedowitz praised the much maligned Beauty and the Beast (“we’re very pleased where it’s going creatively”), and he also continued to blame Nielsen for not measuring digital devices, where many in the 18-34 view their programs. Pedowitz also is eying comedies for the 2014-15 season. As for pilot development, A Wonder Woman project called Amazon is in the works, and so is a back door pilot spinoff of The Vampire Diaries.

But what wasn’t brought up – by the critics at the tour or Pedowitz – was the relationship between CW and its largest group affiliated with the network, Tribune Broadcasting (owner of WGN-TV in Chicago), who recently emerged from bankruptcy and now under new ownership.

The Carrie Diaries. An entourage of cast and crew – thirteen to be exact – took center stage at the TCA presentation and talked about the Sex And The City prequel with a teenage Carrie Bradshaw, and how it came all together. For one, the crew had to keep up the period where the series is set (1984), maintaining the look and feel of the era – and it wasn’t easy (the absence of the World Trade Center, for instance.) The series is adapted from the book of the same name from author Candace Bushnell, who said the book and TV series is quite different. From Deadline: “The reality is, books and TV series are like apples and oranges. A book has a beginning, a middle and an end, whereas a TV series you want to go on and on and on. There are certain requirements of a series that shape a lot of the decisions in taking a book to series. You have to kind of throw everything out and start over.”

Given the weak reviews and the not-so-much love on social media factor, we might not see young Carrie grow up – the show so far is averaging around an 0.5 adult 18-49 rating.

Cult: The premise for this unusual drama: the disappearance of his brother leads an investigative reporter and a production assistant for the TV show Cult go undercover to observe the show’s fans, who may be committing crimes they see on the program.  Executive Producer Rockne O’Bannon said he got the idea for Cult during his days working on the TV series Farspace, where he noted the string fandom of the show. Co-executive producer Lee Goldstein said Cult is more about explaining the relationship between fans and the TV shows they watch. From Deadline: “There certainly is a fan passion for a certain kind of show” said Goldman. “[Cult is] generally about the relationship of television to society.”

The show-within-a-show format concept isn’t new – think On The Air and Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip (created by David Lynch and Aaron Sorkin, respectively,) and of course, The Larry Sanders Show. But when Cult was shown to the critics at the tour, many of them were confused about the concept – and it received a rather lukewarm response. Yours truly loves these different, out-of-the-box shows – but Cult may be more suited for Starz, Showtime, or HBO and not CW. After all, Larry Sanders did thrive on premium cable – but Studio 60 was canceled in 2007 after one season and On The Air’s summer run in 1992 lasted just three weeks. Cult premieres February 19 after Hart of Dixie and is expected to run thirteen consecutive weeks.

Showtime: At TCA, Showtime exec David Nevins spoke out in an executive session regarding violence on TV, Dexter, the controversial season finale of Homeland, not to mention huge announcements regarding The Big C, and Episodes. For more on the CBS-owned premium channel’s day at TCA, click here.