If The CW network decides that a comedy featuring 51-year-old country singer Reba McEntire isn’t hip enough, it could still cost the new network a lot to lose it.
Before this season, The WB picked up Reba for this season and next from 20th Century Fox Television. But in the past couple of weeks, sources close to the show say they are hearing that The CW is leaning towards buying out of the second year of the deal, which will cost network owners CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. upwards of $20 million.
Since that figure can just be written off into the shutdown costs for The WB, many consider it a smart branding move for the youth-targeted CW.
“They’ll bite a big bullet by killing off Reba, but it’s a strong strategy statement,” says one source with knowledge of the situation. “They won’t stand up in New York and say, ‘We’re young and hot ... and Reba McEntire’s back!’ It’s worth the financial hit to say, ‘This is the network we are, and here is where we are going.’”
Spokespeople from both The CW and 20th Century Fox Television declined to comment.—Ben Grossman