Entertainment

Is 'Buffy' over the hill? Is the CW network?

BEVERLY HILLS --

“Ringer,”

the new

Sarah Michelle Gellar

show airing on the CW network this fall, combines an intriguing premise, a strong ensemble and the critical darling still known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer to legions of adoring, middle-aged fans.

However, that last fact led to some awkward moments on Thursday for Gellar as she faced the nation’s TV critics for the fall season previews.

“You did a lot of your own stunts in ‘Buffy,’” one question began promisingly. “Has your advanced age cut down” —

“We are a little worried about the osteoporosis,” interrupted Gellar, who is 33 or 34 depending on which Internet site you believe.

The exchange got a big laugh, but it underscored the growing pains the CW network is going through right now. Going back to the days of its predecessors — remember the WB and UPN? Anyone? — the people in charge of America’s fifth broadcast network have boldly declared that any viewer over the age of 34 was dead to them.

But “Ringer,” a show originally developed for CBS — Mom and Dad’s favorite network — puts the lie to all that. It’s clearly designed to appeal to middle-aged TV critics, and viewers.

This was not denied by the CW’s new head of entertainment, Mark Pedowitz.

“Our core audience is 18-34 (year-olds),” said Pedowitz, who’s in his 50s. “‘Ringer’ is special for all of us here because it ... allows us to invite others in that 18-34 audience to come in plus other demographics to view it.”

Wait — the CW is aware of “other demographics” besides people who read Vogue?

Showtime

also rolled out some shows for critics on Thursday. See if you can spot a theme here — a 9/11 concert featuring

Paul McCartney

;

“Rebirth,”

in which filmmaker

Jim Whitaker

interviewed the same group of 9/11 survivors every year for a decade; and

“Homeland,”

a new 9/11 conspiracy thriller from two top producers on

“24.”

One of the “Homeland” producers,

Howard Gordon

, called the timing “accidental” but also “fortuitous.”

“Osama bin Laden was killed when we were on Episode 2,” Gordon said. “This show is very much in the wake of 9/11, but ten years later. This is after

Abu Ghraib

, after

Guantanamo

, after the prosecution of two wars of questionable merit — and the price to this country of our of what happened to us 10 years ago.”

Today, the

Fox

network will preview the two programs that make it the heavy favorite to reign as the undisputed heavyweight champion of prime time: “The X Factor,” the new singing competition that reunites

Simon Cowell

and

Paula Abdul

; and

“Terra Nova,”

a new take on the dinosaurs-and-middle-class-Americans fantasy idea from

Steven Spielberg.
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