Could "The O.C." Move To The CW?
Since Wednesday when TV Guide suggested FOX was unlikely to renew "The O.C" for a fifth season but the drama could find a new place on The CW network, the fans have speculated about the likelihood of such scenario.
Josh Schwartz, the creator and the executive producer of "The O.C." already has a project in development at The CW. In August, the network announced Schwartz was developing the drama "Gossip Girl", based on the popular book series, for the 2007-2008 season.
Previously, Josh Schwartz was working on the pilot called "Athens" as well as the untitled O.C. spin-off project that was supposed to focus on the character of Kaitlin Cooper, currently played on "The O.C." by Willa Holland.
Both projects were however scrapped, and when the new FOX management headed by Peter Ligouri took over and the ratings for the teen drama went south on Thursday nights, the reduced episode order for the fourth season of "The O.C." indicated Schwartz's original show was in trouble, too.
Insiders say, unlike his predecessor Gail Berman, Ligouri was never really able to relate to the show and was more interested in the fate of the shows he himself put on the schedule.
This is perhaps why Ligouri could not foresee any danger in moving the show to face CSI in the ultra-competitive 9pm hour on Thursdays in January 2006, nor in keeping the show in the same timeslot once ABC announced they would be moving their breakout hit drama "Grey's Anatomy" to the same time.
Also, it was Ligouri who decreased the fourth season order to a mere 16 episodes using a pretty inane explanation that this was due to "The O.C." premiering after the baseball playoffs.
In the 2004-2005 season, The O.C. also premiered in early November, but managed to stay on air all the way through May 2005 - a total of 24 episodes were produced that year.
Hence, it is very unlikely Peter Ligouri would keep the show on the network which has done little to avoid the gradual viewer erosion, including the obvious lack of promotion in recent weeks.
The ratings have gone up a little in December (the last episode on December 21 scored 4,5 million viewers, up 210,000 over the previous week). Of course, those numbers are expected to go down as soon as ABC and CBS roll out the new episodes of their blockbusters.
Would The CW be willing to prolong The O.C.'s life?
On one hand, Josh Schwartz developing a new project for the network does not hurt O.C.'s chances. On the other hand, though, the reality of The CW airing the best of The WB and UPN is that it is a network of aging shows, whose #1 priority will be to develop new hits, if it is to avoid the fate of its predecessors.
Finally, although The CW is now available in almost 96% of the country, there is little certainty that the entire audience that tunes into FOX on Thursdays would find the show on The CW, as many of the past WB and UPN hits have learned.
Having said that, 3,9-4,9 million viewers is quite a decent audience for The CW, and making those loyal fans cross over to The CW might be a lot less difficult than making a show like "Runaway" a hit.
The O.C. returns January 4, still on FOX.