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CW fall development: Witches, zombies, and law dogs

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Bilson King
Landmark/PR Photos; Glenn Harris/PR Photos

CW topper Dawn Ostroff may be shepherding her best development season yet, but the veteran programmer is not expected to stick around to see the 2011-12 launch: Ostroff, whose contract is up in June, reportedly informed both CBS Corp chief Leslie Moonves and Warner Bros., Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer that she will leave sometime this summer to return to New York, where her husband’s job is based.

Ostroff has run CW since 2006, when it became  joint venture between Warner Bros., and CBS. She’s been bi-coastal for the last five years.

For now, Ostroff told EW that her focus remains on finding the next chapter of cult faves in the vein of The Vampire Diaries, and she thinks she has them with her hodge podge of shows about zombies, witches, and lawyers. “We’re really very excited about our varied concepts and high-concept ideas,” Ostroff told EW. “But we also tried to do shows that weren’t straight soaps. How we branch out is key. We need to have core franchises in the works.”

For genre fans (or should we say converts of The Walking Dead?), a new drama featuring zombies could be a keeper.  It all depends on those effects — and how far the network goes with the blood and gore. Secret Circle from the teen-angst king Kevin Williamson seems like the perfect lead-out to Diaries, but have viewers grown tired of small-screen witches? (See: ABC’s Eastwick. Better yet, don’t).

Just to be safe, the CW has developed a requisite amount of safe shows about doctors, lawyers, and detectives. Here’s the lineup of pilots:

Danni Lowinski (Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman): A young female law school grad who can’t find a job decides to open her own law office – in a kiosk at the local mall. Cast: Amanda Walsh, Carla Gallo, Neal Bledsoe, George Dzundza, Utkarsh Ambudkar

Awakening (William Laurin & Glenn Davis, Howard T. Owens, Carolyn Bernstein, Todd Cohen): Two sisters come of age and face off against one another amidst the beginning of a zombie uprising. Cast: Lucy Griffiths, Meredith Hagner, Brian Hallisay

Hart of Dixie (Leila Gerstein, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein): Culture shock awaits a young New York City doctor after she inherits a medical practice in a small Southern town inhabited by an eclectic and eccentric group of characters in this comedic drama. Cast: Rachel Bilson, Jamie King, Wilson Bethel, Cress Williams

Cooper and Stone (Laurie Arent): A contemporary and genuine drama centered on two young women, who are the best of friends, facing the same personal and professional struggles as any other women their age. Despite having their own individual styles and very different backgrounds, they share a unique bond: They’re partnered as two of Chicago’s best homicide detectives. Cast: Alexandra Breckenridge, Riley Smith

Heavenly (Richard Hatem, Rob Doherty, Ross Fineman, Mimi Leder): A dedicated young female attorney and a former angel team up to tackle cases at her legal aid clinic. She comes to the rescue of her clients… while he saves their souls. Cast: Ben Aldridge, Elizabeth Ho

Secret Circle (Andrew Miller, Kevin Williamson, Elizabeth Craft, Sarah Fain, Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo, Liz Friedlander): Based upon the book series by L.J. Smith (author of The Vampire Diaries book series), the story of a young woman who moves to a new town and discovers that not only is she a witch and part of a secret coven, but she’s also the key that will unlock a centuries-old battle of good versus evil. Cast: Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker