Green is red-hot at new CW network

Times Staff Writer

For Kermit the Frog, it was never "easy being green." But Dawn Ostroff, the president of entertainment for the CW, is banking on that color to get WB and UPN viewers to tune in to the brand-new combined network this fall.

The CW officially launches on Sept. 20, and green -- its official color -- was a hot topic of conversation at the television industry's summer press tour at the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa on Monday. Press binders were bright green, as were the pens and stationery CW handed out.

"There's quite a discussion about 'What color green is this? Lime green?' " went one question.

And Ostroff, who always manages to stay on message, replied: "I think the really important thing is that we wanted to be able to use a color to help people be able to know they were talking about CW and CW shows; and it really is a marketing tool, which I think is hopefully effective since everybody's talking about it. It is a lime green, a bit of a dark green in there, the whole palette. There's obviously yellow and white."

In other words, there weren't too many revelations about the 21st century's first network -- formed earlier this year when CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. announced they would shut down the struggling UPN and WB networks and replace them with a new hybrid, the CW. The network will air mostly old shows from UPN and the WB. About 60% of UPN viewers will have to find "America's Next Top Model," "Veronica Mars," "Everybody Hates Chris," "All of Us," "Girlfriends" and "WWE Friday Night SmackDown!" on a new channel. About 30% of WB's audience will have to switch channels to watch favorites such as "7th Heaven," "One Tree Hill," "Supernatural," "Gilmore Girls" and "Beauty and the Geek." Additionally, there will be two original series making their debut: "Runaway," a drama created by Darren Star starring Donnie Wahlberg, and "The Game," a sitcom spinoff of "Girlfriends."

Keith Marder, formerly an executive at the WB, kicked off the session with his customary stand-up act and joked that the network's new slogan is "Two wrongs do make a right." Later, Ostroff said she did not expect the CW's audience to automatically double, but she did think the CW's ratings would be stronger than the WB's and UPN's ratings combined. UPN goes off the air Sept. 15, and the WB closes its doors on Sept. 17.

All this will be owed in large part to the marketing machine, which calls for a late summer mall tour that CW actors will partake in, and, of course, Kermit's skin color. "And, by the way, green is such a happy color," Ostroff elaborated. "It really represents fun, happy; it really stands for a lot of what the network is about. There's sort of this attitude about it."

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