Ostroff: 'Enterprise' Departure Leaves a Hole in the ScheduleBy Michelle
April 13, 2005 - 10:30 PM
UPN president Dawn Ostroff, one of the people responsible for the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise, admitted that it was hard seeing critically acclaimed shows like Veronica Mars and Kevin Hill struggle for ratings as the network attempted to redefine itself in the past year.
"We're realistic, and we understand that there are certain expectations that have to be managed," said Ostroff, who is now the longest-enduring head of programming among the six major networks, according to the interview in The Hollywood Reporter. The network has ten pilots in development for the fall, evenly split between comedies and dramas, with Paramount owning 60% of the material.
"What we've tried to do is find things, first and foremost, that are quality material. We always let the material drive us," Ostroff said, though she quickly added, "First and foremost, we want to appeal to 18- to 34-year-olds with a skew toward women." She said that in some cases they were looking for different, fresh material from the other networks, while in others they wanted shows "that feel very commercial but with a unique flavor."
The Hollywood Reporter called Veronica Mars the network's biggest hit of the past season, though the freshman show, which earned raves from the critics, has won only mediocre ratings and was only renewed for a second season last week. "When CBS was starting to turn the network around, '(Everybody Loves) Raymond' didn't open big. 'Seinfeld' didn't open big," Ostroff observed. "We're building this network brick by brick. It's not going to happen overnight." She blamed incorrect Nielsen reporting for the dramatic drop in ratings for UPN's Monday night comedies, which had always done well in previous years.
The vacuum left by Enterprise admittedly leaves a hole in the schedule, as Star Trek has been a mainstay of the UPN network since its inception. "That's at least one hour that we'll need to fill," noted Ostroff. "That's part of why we have such a wide range of development this year...it's very important for us to have laid the groundwork to show that we can do quality programming here."
Ostroff felt that after the 2004-5 television season, UPN is taken more seriously by the industry and viewers were beginning to notice. "Our brand is focused, our flow is better -- we're going to get there. Hopefully, with some of these pilots we can really solidify what we've got here," she said.