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TV Upfronts: What’s New on CW

Tyra Banks and Next Top Model Jaslene Gonzalez at CW’s upfronts.Photo by Getty Images

Veronica Mars renewed! Just kidding. At the CW network’s upfront at Madison Square Garden this morning, the cult classic was, as had been rumored, noticeably missing. But the fledgling network’s fall schedule was still packed with pretty, wisecracking teens making pop-culture references and entertainingly misguided life choices. Indeed, the CW announced one clear strategy; a fall slate pitched specifically at the “key demo” of 18–34, with the emphasis on girls. So, miniskirts ruled as the Pussycat Dolls introduced the show and the America’s Top Models sashayed in.

The network introduced six new programs but gave its biggest push to just a few. From Clerks’ Kevin Smith is Reaper, a show about a slacker who finds that his parents sold his soul to the devil; his new job is to suck up evil souls with a bright-red car vacuum. In a tasty TV flashback, the role of Satan is played by Ray Wise, the “Who killed Laura Palmer?” murderer of Twin Peaks.

The crowd of 3,000 took to Aliens in America, a comedy about a Pakistani Muslim high-school exchange student who doesn’t find a warm welcome in Wisconsin. Blamed for 9/11 by his homeroom teacher, he’s greeted in the halls of his high school with “Hey Raj, where’s my Slushie?”

Echoing CW’s Everwood is Life Is Wild, in which a father relocates his teen kids out of New York after the death of their mom. (Why isn’t this practice considered unacceptably cruel?) But this time they go to a game preserve in South Africa, where the entire series is shot.

CW’s hardest sell was reserved for glamour soap Gossip Girl, from O.C. creator Josh Schwartz and based on the best-selling series of teen books. Set in a wealthy Manhattan prep school and narrated by the unseen bitchy blogger of the title, it has a strong Second Life–style online component. Viewers can design avatars, buy the star’s wardrobes online, and “move to the Upper East Side, attending posh parties and premieres,” the net promises.

But biggest laugh of the week came when the net explained what would happen to the unfortunate losers of Crowned, a reality show for teams of tall-haired mother-daughter beauty-pageant contestants. Those voted off are “de-sashed,” their shoulderwear snipped by Queer Eye’s Carson Kressley. —Alexandra Peers

TV Upfronts: What’s New on CW