Roughly 30-40 employees of The CW were laid off on Tuesday by new owner Nexstar Media, IndieWire has learned.
The move is the first large scale overhaul at the CW after Nexstar, the largest television-station owner in the United States, took control of the channel’s operation on October 3. Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global, The CW’s previous owners, sold a majority of their unprofitable joint venture to Nexstar in June.
Among those laid off on Tuesday were Paul Hewitt, the CW communications chief since it formed from the merger of UPN with The WB in 2006. In his place, Beth Feldman has been named SVP of Network Communications, taking on the role in addition to her current duties as Nexstar’s executive director of communication, Networks division.
“For the past 20 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to have played a role, albeit a small one, in helping shape, influence and even define popular culture with the series we created and shared with our passionate fans,” Hewitt said in a statement about his exit. “This job has been an absolute gift, and I’m eternally grateful for all of my colleagues in our CW family, the producers and talent on the shows too many to list that I have had the pleasure of working alongside, and above all, a world-class PR team that I am proud to say has always been the best of the best in this industry. I’m looking forward to jumping headlong into the next chapter of my career, and I wish Dennis, Sean, Beth and everyone at The CW and Nexstar all of the best as they steer this network into its bold, new future.”
The news also follows the exit of The CW’s longtime CEO Mark Pedowitz, who left his position the day of the acquisition after serving as the channel’s head since 2011. He was replaced by Dennis Miller, a former exec for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Branding exec Rick Haskins and ad-sales head Mitch Nedick also left the company prior to Tuesday’s layoffs.
Reportedly, Nexstar’s revamp of The CW will dramatically cut its spending on original scripted programming, focusing on acquired programs, news shows, unscripted programs, and other projects aimed at the older viewers that actually watch broadcast television, as opposed to the younger audience many CW shows have targeted.
In May, 10 shows on the channel (“Naomi,” “4400,” “Batwoman,” “Charmed,” “Dynasty,” “In the Dark,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Roswell, New Mexico,” and “Legacies”) were canceled, constituting over half of The CW’s scripted programming lineup. In addition, four series — including its longest-running hit “The Flash,” “Stargirl,” “Nancy Drew,” and “Riverdale” — will conclude their runs during the 2022-2023 broadcast season.
For years, the channel was best known for its programming based on DC Comics shows, set in the world established by the 2012 hit “Arrow,” and featuring characters owned by Warner Bros. With these cancellations, only two DC shows airing on the network remain with the potential for future seasons: “Superman & Lois” and the upcoming “Gotham Knights.”
We do not yet know the fates of “All American,” “Walker,” “Kung Fu,” “Walker: Independence,” and “The Winchesters.” Unscripted programming that aired at the network include “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” “Masters of Illusion,” and the revival of improv-comedy series “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
Tony Maglio contributed reporting.