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CW banks on Kutcher, vampires



Published: Fri, May 22, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Bauder

NEW YORK — The CW television network is keeping a laser focus on teenage girls and young women with an abbreviated fall lineup that features vampires, tormented models and 1990s flashbacks.

The small network hopes that niche appeal is the key to survival in a tough market. The CW will stop programming on Sunday nights and has cast aside all comedy in favor of scripted dramas with female appeal and “America’s Next Top Model.”

“Privileged,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game” have ended, the CW said Thursday.

With bloodsuckers all the rage, the CW will launch a Thursday night show based on the book series, “The Vampire Diaries.” Two vampire brothers — one good, sexy and brooding, the other bad, sexy and brooding — compete for the attention of one high school girl.

“As everyone knows, chicks dig the vampires,” said actor Stefan Salvatore, who plays the good one.

After the CW saw modest success with a “Beverly Hills 90210” remake this season, the network will add a new version of “Melrose Place” featuring Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Both series will air on Tuesday nights. Laura Leighton and Thomas Calabro of the original series are back on the street.

Ashton Kutcher, who has been busy making reality shows, will be executive producer of a new drama, “The Beautiful Life.” Two young models — one male, sexy and brooding, the other female, sexy and brooding — stick together to help each other navigate a sleazy industry.

It will directly follow the 13th edition of “America’s Next Top Model,” this one for prospective models 5 feet and 6 inches and below — the “shorties,” as host Tyra Banks called them.

The CW also ordered a midseason series, “Parental Discretion Advised,” about a girl who bounces around foster homes and makes contact with her birth parents. The network describes it as “Juno” meets “Gilmore Girls.”

After years of failure on Sunday nights, the CW had earlier announced that it would become a Monday through Friday network and let its affiliates air whatever they want on Sundays.

The network also has stopped developing comedies after a couple — “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Aliens in America” — couldn’t match critical buzz with commercial success.

“In all honesty, we had a lot of disappointment with comedies,” Dawn Ostroff, the network’s entertainment chief, said.


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