The CW’s EVP of current programming Michael Roberts and EVP of development Gaye Hirsch have exited the US network in a new round of layoffs, as the US network continues its pivot towards unscripted content.
The exit of these senior scripted executives, reportedly alongside that of an unconfirmed number of other staff members, comes as The CW’s new owner Nexstar Media Group seeks to increase focus on unscripted programming, hiring NBCUniversal alum Heather Olander to oversee the move earlier this week, in what would have been a clash with Hirsch’s existing remit. However, the layoffs are not believed to be a complete closure of scripted originals, with lower-level scripted staff understood to be staying on.
While The CW is known for its teen dramas like Riverdale and Nancy Drew and a slew of ‘Arrowverse‘ superhero shows, including The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow, recent months have seen the cancellations of many of these scripted titles.
Meanwhile, Nexstar has previously shared its plans to populate The CW with “broader and cheaper programming”, signalling a push into more unscripted programming, led by the newly appointed Olander. Sports drama All American is the only scripted series to have so far been confirmed as returning next season.
Hirsch oversaw development on all scripted and alternative series for the network, a well as current alternative and specials. She worked closely alongside former CW CEO and chairman Mark Pedowitz, to develop series including The Flash, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Riverdale, before his exit last year following the Nexstar takeover.
Roberts, meanwhile, has been with The CW since July 2001 in its days as the then WB Network, and was named head of current programming in 2006. During this time, he has worked on series including Smallville, Gossip Girl and Jane The Virgin.
Pedowitz’s exit in October preceded around 40 job cuts including long-time communications chief, Paul Hewitt. The outgoing CEO was replaced by Dennis Miller as president, who hired former Pop TV and Fuse boss Brad Schwartz as president of CW Entertainment soon after.
News of Roberts and Hirsch’s departure was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.