How '7th Heaven' Was Resurrected

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It's not entirely clear when executives at The CW decided that "7th Heaven" deserved another year on the air.

The best that anyone could pin down Thursday at the new network's upfront was that sometime between the flurry of promotion for the long-running show's alleged "series finale" and Thursday's show, the network decided it would be a good idea.

"We talked about it initially, and it sort of fell apart, then we talked again," says Dawn Ostroff, The CW's head of programming. And, after considering the show's ratings, its cost and the rest of The CW's schedule, the show was reborn.

The series about a minister (Stephen Collins) and his large family was the most-watched show on either The WB or UPN this season, even before the loudly hyped last episode brought in 7 million viewers. Prior to that it was drawing about 5.2 million viewers per week.

The economics of making "7th Heaven" -- a prime reason WB executives gave for its pending cancellation in January, before The CW was announced -- will also change some under the new network. CBS Paramount Network TV produces the show, and CBS is a half-owner of the network, which Ostroff says helped ease the way to a deal. (She also says most of the cast will be back next season, as will series creator Brenda Hampton.)

"I can't go into all the finances, but because it was our own company, we were able to figure out how we can make deals that make sense for everybody," Ostroff says.

Finally, Ostroff wants to give "Runaway," The CW's lone new drama for fall, a strong lead-in. The show follows a family who become fugitives when the father (Donnie Wahlberg) is wrongly accused of a crime.

"We looked at 'Runaway,' which is at its core a family drama, and thought ['7th Heaven'] would be a great fit," Ostroff says. "So everything jus kind of came together."

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