In a rare move, Mark Pedowitz’s younger-skewing network has bypassed the traditional pilot stage.
The CW is getting a very early jump on its 2020-21 season.
Mark Pedowitz’s younger-skewing network has handed out straight-to-series orders for Arrow-verse spinoff Superman & Lois as well as Jared Padalecki’s Walker, Texas Ranger reimagining. Both script-to-series pickups will be for the network’s 2020-21 broadcast season, a rare move for The CW, which traditionally produces a pilot before handing out series orders in May. The early orders will likely help the network get a jump on hiring writers, casting, directors and producing scripts and episodes before a potential writers strike. The first episodes will be filmed in the spring in advance of The CW’s upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers in May. Additional pilot orders are expected to come from the network in the next few weeks.
Superman & Lois willstar Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch as they reprise their Arrow-verse roles, Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Both feature prominently in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, which wraps Tuesday on The CW. The series, which follows the iconic characters as they deal with stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society, is being written by former The Flash showrunner Todd Helbing, who stepped down last season in order to focus on development via his overall deal with Superman & Lois producers Warner Bros. TV. The project, like all Arrow-verse programming, is being produced by studio-based Greg Berlanti Productions and his company topper Sarah Schechter. Geoff Johns will also exec produce. A premiere date has not been determined.
Walker, meanwhile, is described as a reimagining of the former Chuck Norris show Walker, Texas Ranger. It keeps fan favorite Padalecki on The CW following his 15-year run on Supernatural. That series, like Arrow, wraps its run this season. The new take follows Cordell Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, who returns to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s harder work to be done at home. He will attempt to reconnect with his children, navigate clashes with his family and find unexpected common ground with his new partner (one of the first women in Texas Rangers’ history), while growing increasingly suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death. The project is being written and produced by Anna Fricke (Being Human, Valor) and executive produced by Dan Lin and Lindsay Liberatore, as well as Padalecki. Walker hails from CBS TV Studios.”I am a big believer in Jared and Jensen Ackles, and if I could keep them both in some fashion, I would. We’ll see what happens,” Pedowitz told The Hollywood Reporter last week.
Superman & Lois and Walker were among The CW’s buzziest development scripts and come with a built-in fan base that will help both cut through the cluttered landscape in a climate with more than 530 scripted originals.
The two projects will help fill the void created on the network’s schedule from the natural conclusions of Arrow, Supernatural and The 100. What’s more, they join a 2020-21 CW lineup that will again feature nearly all of its scripted originals after Pedowitz renewed 13 series earlier this month. (Still on the bubble is the midseason Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, which earned an early vote of confidence with an order for 13 additional scripts ahead of its debut.)
The orders arrive after Pedowitz last week inked a new, multiyear deal to remain at the top of The CW and was promoted to chairman and CEO of the network.
The early pickups are again evenly split between The CW co-owners Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios. As for The CW’s pilot slate, the network also has an untitled 100 prequel series and a second Arrow-verse spinoff — a female-fronted entry starring Katherine McNamara, Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy — already in the works. Both will air as planted episodes in their respective flagships’ final seasons. (Keep track of all the pilot and series orders for next season with THR‘s handy guide.)”As Arrow was aging and now ending this month, we put Batwoman on. We understand that there’s age limitations to these shows. As they change, we go to the next cycle. As long as you have good tentpole product to go with, you’re in good shape,” Pedowitz told THR last week about how many more shows in the DC Comics universe the network would add this season. The CW’s DC lineup next season will now consist of Black Lightning, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Batwoman and Superman & Lois.
The CW is not alone in handing out early straight-to-series orders this pilot season. NBC this week handed out an 11-episode order for the Dwayne Johnson comedy Young Rock, which joins Ted Danson’s as-yet untitled L.A. mayoral comedy that was also picked up straight to series months ago. Fox, too, went to series on the animated comedy Housebroken.
For Berlanti, meanwhile, the Superman & Lois order will give him nine scripted series — and potentially 10, should Katy Keene get picked up for season two — on The CW alone. It also grows his TV-record number of scripted series currently in the works to an eye-popping 22 via his $400 million overall deal with Warner Bros. TV.