The CW Guts Development, Current Departments in Latest Shift Away From Scripted Originals (Exclusive)  

The CW, in its latest shift away from scripted originals, is dismantling its current programming department.

Sources tell   that exec vp current programming Michael Roberts and exec vp development Gaye Hirsch — two of The CW’s remaining most important scripted executives — are among those who were let go Thursday. An exact headcount was not immediately available, though sources say others were impacted by the layoffs.

While losing the heads of current and development are a big blow to The CW’s efforts to continue making scripted originals, this is not a complete dismantling of its scripted executives as sources say some lower-level staffers — i.e., those with smaller salaries — are being retained.

Reps for The CW did not respond to THR’s multiple requests for comment.

The workforce reduction marks the latest blow to The CW under station group Nexstar, which took control of the younger-skewing broadcaster last year after buying a 75 percent stake in the network from CBS Studios and Warner Bros. TV. The latter two studios each control a minority 12.5 percent share in The CW as Nexstar has remained contractually committed to airing all of its holdover originals.

For her part, Hirsch has overseen development since Thom Sherman was plucked from The CW to CBS under then-president Kelly Kahl. (Kahl and Sherman were both let go from CBS last year.) Hirsch has had her hand in scripted at The CW since 2006 after serving in the network’s current programming department and working on such shows as Gossip Girl, Jane the Virgin, Arrow, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Riverdale, among countless others.

Roberts, meanwhile, has been with The CW since its days as the former WB Network in 2004. He’s been head of current programming since 2006.

Since Nexstar took control, former CW CEO Mark Pedowitz — who had been expected to stay — opted to leave his post as broadcast’s longest-tenured network chief. Layoffs soon followed, impacting the heads of marketing, finance and PR, among others.

Nexstar installed Dennis Miller as president of The CW. In turn, Miller tapped former Pop TV president Brad Schwartz to oversee entertainment at The CW. Under Nexstar, Schwartz is tasked with making The CW profitable by 2025. Schwartz is expected to keep what sources say could be as many as only three U.S. scripted originals on The CW; the network has already renewed All American as one of those few series expected to remain under Nexstar. Additionally, Schwartz this week brought in former NBCU exec Heather Olander as the newly created role of head of unscripted programming for The CW. Olander and Schwartz are expected to populate the network with low-cost reality programming and foreign scripted acquisitions. The latter costs considerably less than U.S. originals like Superman & Lois, which sources peg comes with a $5 million per episode price tag.

The timing of the departures comes in the middle of broadcast’s annual pilot season. The CW has not picked up a single pilot for development next season in what is clearly another sign of the network’s future under Nexstar.

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