The CW Names Heather Olander as Head of Unscripted

The executive will lead development and production of alternative reality series in the newly created position

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The CW Network has tapped Heather Olander as head of unscripted programming, Brad Schwartz, president of entertainment, announced Wednesday. In the newly created position, the executive will oversee development and production of alternative reality series, events and specials.

“As we re-imagine our programming strategy, we are truly fortunate to have Heather Olander leading the unscripted team at The CW,” Schwartz said in a statement. “Heather is an industry dynamo with a stellar reputation for discovering talent and cultivating relationships with content producers. With her boundless creativity, I’m confident we’ll develop innovative nonfiction series for The CW Network that catalyzes conversations.”

Olander added, “I’m incredibly honored to join Brad and the team at this exciting time of transformation for The CW. I’m looking forward to developing a fresh slate of non-scripted programming and collaborating with non-scripted producers on new innovative and creative content that can break through and resonate with viewers.”

Prior to joining The CW, Olander served in a variety of roles at NBCUniversal beginning in 2011, when she was senior vice president of alternative development and programming for USA Network. Three years later, she added oversight of alternative programming for Syfy. In 2019, Olander took on the additional responsibility of running alternative development for Peacock and was elevated to executive vice president of alternative development and programming across the aforementioned platforms. Before that, she served as VP of original series development and current programming at MTV from 2003 through 2010.

Olander designed and built an unscripted brand and development team for USA Network, which had previously been focused on scripted programming. She successfully launched a slate of unscripted series, including the “Chrisley Knows Best” franchise, a reboot of “Temptation Island,” “Miz & Mrs” and “Straight Up Steve Austin.”

The news of Olander’s move to The CW comes following last year’s majority acquisition of the network by Nexstar, which is the nation’s largest local television and media company. As part of the controlling 75% stake, experts have theorized that the company will prioritize programming that will serve as a natural lead-in for its local news, which includes more unscripted and alternative content in a bid to be profitable by 2025.