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TrekToday - UPN Unveils Fall Plans at Press Tour

UPN Unveils Fall Plans at Press Tour

By Michelle
July 21, 2004 - 2:37 PM

The fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise will begin airing on October 8th, featuring more self-contained episodes and at least one mini-arc starring a former Star Trek regular.

As the broadcast networks unveiled their fall schedules this week, UPN announced the latest start date for any of its returning series for Enterprise, though that news was overshadowed at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles by the controversy over new UPN reality show Amish in the City, according to several sources.

The Futon Critic published UPN's press release featuring the dates and times of its fall series, confirming that Enterprise will air at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. as the network indicated several weeks ago. "With continued star-spanning action and spectacular special effects, this new season's will take 'Star Trek' into further uncharted territory, while introducing some characters and elements familiar to fans and advancing last season's critically acclaimed storylines, including the mysterious twists in the familiar timeline," noted the announcement.

MediaWeek confirmed that Enterprise very nearly did not return to UPN's schedule, confirming reports that Paramount had dropped its price for the show. "If Star Trek had cost the license fee that it cost a year ago, a different decision may have been made," said Les Moonves, co-president and COO of Viacom, who said that building a stronger network among 18- to 34-year-old viewers, particularly women. The success of America's Next Top Model, reruns of which will follow Enterprise this fall, has changed the network's strategy from aiming for young male viewers.

Friday nights, noted The Detroit Free Press, is by far UPN's lowest-rated night, and with the price of the series cut, UPN had less to lose by airing Enterprise then. The paper also reported that Brent Spiner (Data) was expected to appear on Enterprise this season. As previously reported, the producers have also mentioned that they have spoken with William Shatner (Kirk) about a possible guest spot.

TV Guide reported that UPN "displayed a level of confidence not seen since the summer of 2001 — when it stole Buffy the Vampire Slayer right out from under crosstown rival WB." Moonves said that Paramount made a very attractive offer to UPN to bring Enterprise back, while UPN president Dawn Ostroff said that many of the show's episodes this season would be self-contained, which in TV Guide writer Michael Ausiello's estimation means that "if the show sucks one week, it could still bounce back the next."

Variety noted via Yahoo! that by sharing resources with CBS and generating more ad revenue, UPN had gotten itself on track for profitability. "In just 2½ years we've changed the perception and the direction of UPN," Moonves told reporters. "It wasn't that long ago that many of you thought that UPN structurally was unable to produce a hit, no less a hit schedule."

USA Today's coverage of the press tour focused on Amish and the City and a new fall series starring Taye Diggs as a lawyer who suddenly finds himself having to act as parent to an infant niece. "The controversy over Amish threatened to overshadow what many critics believe is one of fall's best new series, and the most promising in UPN's 10-year history, Kevin Hill," wrote Gary Levin.

But according to The Washington Post, Moonves was quite defensive over the critical reaction to UPN's announcement of the debut of Amish in the City. "It's not our practice to screen things and get affiliates to approve or disapprove what we're putting on the air," he stated, insisting to one reporter that he had addressed questions about other reality series during the CBS press tour, when in fact he had declined to comment that day.

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