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OMFG: The CW Shakes Up Prime-Time Roster

With resolution in sight for ‘Gossip Girl,’ net preps five new series

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in USA's "Arrow" Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW.

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Like someone joggling a Magic 8-Ball in order to elicit a more positive result, The CW has shaken up its prime-time schedule, sending four of its signature programs to new nights and prepping five new series.

Franchise dramas 90210 and Gossip Girl will be reunited on Monday nights, with the West Beverly crew leading into the Upper East Siders. While this will mark the final season of Gossip Girl, a definitive episode order has not been established.

Speaking to reporters today after the network’s upfront presentation, CW president Mark Pedowitz said his team is in the midst of deciding on how best to close out Gossip Girl. “Our goal is to run it in the fall and end it in the fall,” Pedowitz said, adding that the show’s creators have been instrumental in coming to a decision on the final order. Odds are, the season will run between 11 and 13 episodes.

Pedowitz promised an “OMFG” ending for Gossip Girl, which came into being at the same time texting and Facebook were transforming the teenage cultural apparatus. (The impact the series has had on the New York subset of Generation WTF was apparent by the screaming throng of young girls camped out across the street from the Midtown venue where The CW gave its upfront pitch.)

With Gossip Girl moving up to the Monday 9 p.m. time slot, sophomore series Hart of Dixie jumps to Tuesday night where it will set the table for the new medical drama Emily Owens, M.D. Starring Mamie Gummer (a dead ringer for mommy Meryl), Emily Owens suggests that working in a hospital is a lot like high school, but with a lot more thoracic surgery.

As the schedule progresses into the heart of the week, it becomes apparent that The CW is looking to expand beyond the young-female demo. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, the dark superhero/action series Arrow will draw a bead on a greater cohort of male viewers although the requisite beefcake should satisfy traditional CW die-hards.

Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, the new series also taps into the nation’s newly realized craze for archery (see also: Katniss from The Hunger Games, Hawkeye of The Avengers renown, nearly every character in NBC’s upcoming drama Revolution).

The midseason drama Cult should also cast a wider net. A meta-fiction about a reporter investigating a TV show that attracts a deadly audience of enthusiasts, Cult shares some thematic DNA with Kevin Williamson’s serial-killer strip, The Following (Fox).

Rather than introduce its new series in the midst of the early-fall premiere fray, The CW will delay its 2012-13 launch until October.

The new series that seems most likely to draw a crowd is The Carrie Diaries, a prequel of sorts to Sex and the City. Set in 1984, the show introduces a larval-stage Carrie Bradshaw, a 16-year-old who’s grown out of Big Bird but is nowhere near mature enough for Mr. Big.

In a nod to the HBO series’ framing device, The Carrie Diaries features a voiceover accompanied by the image of Ms. Bradshaw recording her thoughts and impressions on paper. (True fact, CW demo: We didn’t have computers back then. The few who did—like Carrie’s future husband, David Lightman—owned 8-bit systems with flashing green cursors. You have no idea how good you have it.)

The Carrie Diaries will inherit the Monday 8 p.m. time slot after Gossip Girl wraps.

Once again, the one thing you won’t see on The CW this fall is scripted comedy although Pedowitz said the network is inching closer to picking up a 30-minute series. “There were two scripts we were hot on that we will probably put into development,” he said, before adding that the priority was to “restabilize the schedule. And drama was the way to do it.”

Before concluding his Q&A session, Pedowitz said the cancelation of the much-ballyhooed series Ringer does not spell an end to the network’s relationship with Sarah Michelle Gellar. “She will be back on The CW in some form, whether as a producer or an actress,” he said. After a promising premiere, Ringer was hampered by a two-month hiatus. “It’s unfortunate,” Pedowitz said. “The show went away in November and came back in January, and the audience had moved on somewhere else.”

The CW’s fall prime-time schedule is as follows (new series in bold):

Monday

8-9 p.m. — 90210
9-10 p.m. — Gossip Girl

(The Carrie Diaries premieres January 2013)

Tuesday

8-9 p.m. — Hart of Dixie
9-10 p.m. — Emily Owens, M.D.

Wednesday

8-9 p.m. — Arrow
9-10 p.m. — Supernatural

Thursday

8-9 p.m. — The Vampire Diaries
9-10 p.m. — Beauty and the Beast

Friday

8-9 p.m. — America’s Next Top Model
9-10 p.m. — Nikita