Everyone was psyched for the CW upfront at Madison Square Garden Thursday morning. The first launch of a broadcast network in a decade! With young, multi-racial, technologically savvy viewers! Who are making their first major purchasing decisions! And developing brand loyalty!
At one point during the festivities, America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks led an uncomfortable one-woman pep rally for the hot new network’s hot new logo. “Y’all know I’m all into fierceness, and, like, visuals,” she shouted, “and the new logo is hot.”
A magazine editor sitting nearby observed that this superhot new logo, which spells out “CW” in thick, curvy lowercase, is the exact mirror image of the logo for CNN.
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Moving on! (The CW crew spent many months studying its prime demographic, 18-to-34-year-olds, and apparently learned, among other things, that they have short attention spans). The other fruits of this research were displayed in a lightning-quick “documentary” that profiled three members of the CW demo. Jennifer, 19, explained: “I’m all about jeans right now! They really go with every outfit. They’re, like, the perfect accessory.” Jason, whose age passed too quickly to note, loves old people–perhaps an extended metaphor for the relationship between CW’s audience and that of parent company CBS–and his Xbox. Jill, 32, is a stay-at-home mom. Her interests include diapers and furniture.
This is a group of people, CW programming chief Dawn Ostroff explained, who are wired, creative, and who all aspire to low levels of fame. “Call it a psychographic side effect of reality TV,” she said.
After a performance by the Black Eyed Peas, whose rewritten version of “Get It Started” is the new network’s scorching new theme song, Ms. Ostroff got it started. The CW is all about “innovation, participation, connection, community,” she said, over and over. Formed in January from minor networks the WB and UPN, the CW line-up includes a mishmash of those networks’ most successful shows and two new programs. The schedule appears to have been constructed on the principle of demographic segregation.
“Tuesday is Girls’ Night!” The WB’s Gilmore Girls will air at 8 p.m. and UPN’s Veronica Mars will air at 9. At the news of the latter pick-up, one section of the audience–Tampax ad execs?–erupted in applause.
No other night of the week has a catchy name, but each has an implicit audience profile. Monday, with 7th Heaven and a new show called Runaway, is for families. Thursday, with Smallville and Supernatural, is for boys. Friday, with Smackdown!, is for the part of the demographic who watch wrestling. And Sunday, with All of Us, Girlfriends, and Girlfriends spin-off The Game, is for black people.
To underscore this scheduling strategy, Chris Rock, the creator of the autobiographical critical darling Everybody Hates Chris, which starts the Sunday line-up, arrived onstage. To sell more ads, he said, “Chris will now be played by a white girl.”
“You know, Les Moonves picked little Chris,” he added. “I had another one, but Les Moonves said ‘No. I know how to pick black kids.’”
The advertising executives who had filled Madison Square Garden laughed. A sea of well-off, middle aged, white people, they had spent the previous hour like a group of scientists regarding a dissection at Area 51. Abruptly, Mr. Rock switched into their language.
“You better spend some motherfuckin money!,” he yelled and walked offstage.