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Are Genre Shows The Future Of The CW?

PLUS: Hear from the network heads on other shows like ‘Heroes’ and ‘Fringe’

Even before The WB and UPN “merged” (so to speak) to become The CW, the idea was to stray away from mainstream audiences, and gear more toward the underserved.

In the beginning, it was more toward a racially diverse audience. Later, it was a stronger focus toward women. But every time, genre shows win out.

First it was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” and later it was “Smallville.” Now The CW has a crop of popular shows that refuse to die at the stake, including the tried and true “Supernatural” and the new “Vampire Diaries.”

All three shows might have small audiences compared to the other networks, but at The CW, they rule the roost. So why doesn’t The CW look for more genre programming and less “Melrose Place?”

“What ‘Vampire Diaries’ has done so well is that it’s not just a genre show, it has romance and humor and friends that feel like family,” The CW’s president of entertainment told The Hollywood Reporter‘s James Hibberd (full story). “There are so many elements that work on different levels. So although it is a genre or sci-fi show, it has a lot of other elements that make the show work for all of our audience.”

Ostroff described the success of “Vampire Diaries,” which replaced “Smallville” on Thursday nights, as an example of “great writing” and “great casting.”

“A topic that’s in the zeitgeist and a known franchise is always what we look for,” Ostroff said. “It’s the perfect example of the kind of qualities we stress in every show we pick up.”

The CW ordered a 10th season of “Smallville” this week despite moving it to Fridays, and there’s a chance the network might keep it there.

“‘Smallville’ has had a great year creatively, and moving to Friday nights, viewers have not only followed it, but have endorsed the show creatively,” Ostroff said. “I think it’s too early to tell [where it will go], but it’s been doing well on Fridays.”

Fox has watched “Fringe” struggle against ratings powerhouses on Thursday nights, but network entertainment president Kevin Reilly isn’t ready to give up on the J.J. Abrams series just yet. (full story)

“People haven’t abandoned ‘Fringe,'” Reilly said. “It’s just the only scripted four-way race, and frankly, we’ve heard from fans it’s not they don’t want to watch it anymore, it just may have moved to their second choice. They’re picking it up on their DVRs or Hulu. When there’s wiggle room in [the] time period, they come back.”

“Fringe” has averaged a 4.0 rating/6 share in overnight ratings on Thursdays, compared to a 9.5/15 from “CSI” on CBS, an 8.9/14 from “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC, a 4.2/7 from NBC’s comedy block, and a 1.7/3 from “Supernatural” on The CW. However, timeshifted numbers have been high for “Fringe,” meaning it might not be the show they are willing to watch live in the midst of heavy competition, but they will still make time to watch it.

“Heroes” has a very small chance to come back to NBC, but the network — which is looking to completely revamp its schedule for 2010-11 — doesn’t seem heavily committed.

“We met with [‘Heroes’ creator] Tim Kring [last week] and talked about a lot of things,” said Angela Bromstad, NBC’s head of primetime entertainment (full story). “It’s a wait-and-see for us.”

If the show were to come back, Bromstad wouldn’t even comment if they would label it as a final season, possibly opening the door for a potential swan song for the series.

“Chuck,” however, has been a “pleasant surprise.”

“They’re doing great work,” Bromstad said. On whether there will be a renewal, “it’s got to maintain” ratings, she said.

Finally, ABC’s new genre fare of “V” and “FlashForward” has gone through some high-profile showrunner changes in recent weeks. But that’s not too much to be worried about, said ABC Entertainment Group president Steve McPherson. (full story)

“We look for someone [as a showrunner] who has a vision, is collaborative, able to maintain their artistic integrity while understanding our audience,” he said. They need to see “the value in the longevity and future of the series. Also having a strong team with complementary strengths is key.”

McPherson didn’t share predictions on whether “V” or “FlashForward” would return for second seasons, but spring ratings most likely will be key after long hiatuses.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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