The CW hires NBCUniversal alum to lead unscripted push

Heather Olander

The CW Network has appointed Heather Olander to the newly created position of head of unscripted programming to spearhead its push into the space.

In her new role, Olander will oversee development and production of alternative reality series, events and specials for the network.

Olander arrives at The CW following its acquisition by Nexstar Media Group in October. The firm closed a deal to take 75% ownership of the US broadcast network, with CEO and chairman Mark Pedowitz exiting and Dennis Miller stepping into the role of president.

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, which Olander will now lead.

Olander joined NBCUniversal in 2011 as the SVP of alternative development & programming for USA Network and added oversight of alternative programming for Syfy in 2014.

In 2019, she took on the additional responsibility of running alternative development for NBCUniversal’s AVOD service, Peacock, and was promoted to EVP of alternative development & programming for USA, Syfy & Peacock.

She led the creation of an unscripted brand and development team for USA Network, which had previously been focused on scripted programming, and launched a slate of unscripted series, including the Chrisley Knows Best franchise, the reboot of Temptation Island and Straight Up Steve Austin.

Prior to joining NBCUniversal, Olander served as VP of original series development and current programming at MTV from 2003 to 2010.

Brad Schwartz, president of entertainment for The CW Network described Olander as “an industry dynamo with a stellar reputation for discovering talent and cultivating relationships with content producers.”

He added: “With her boundless creativity, I’m confident we’ll develop innovative nonfiction series for The CW Network that catalyzes conversations.”

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