UPN To Keep Distinct Identity, Says Moonves

By Caillan
January 15, 2002 - 5:27 PM

Enterprise network UPN may now be under the watchful eye of CBS president Leslie Moonves, but the executive said Monday it would retain its own separate identity.

"It will continue to be an independent brand with a distinct personality and distinct target audience," Moonves told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour (via Variety).

Moonves was recently given the task of overseeing UPN, after CBS's and UPN's corporate parent Viacom decided to integrate the two networks. He will act as chief executive officer of the network, and hire a president of entertainment to replace Tom Nunan, who left UPN in June last year.

"There's been some suggestion that UPN will become CBS 2," he continued. "While we're going to make the most of joint opportunities, it's safe to say that is absolutely not going to happen."

There will be some cross-over between the networks however, as Moonves said he hopes for communication between the development teams at CBS and UPN. "I want these people talking to each other," he said. "There are great people at both networks, and the idea is to cooperate with each other." According to Electronic Media Online, there's also the possibility of a show developed for one network going to air on the other.

UPN will also work with its big brother in the area of advertising sales. "There's an opportunity for ad rates going up [on UPN]," Moonves said. "It's much easier to sell UPN when you have the NFL to sell with it."

At the press conference, Moonves praised the work of former president Dean Valentine and said he left UPN "positioned for great growth." Valentine's expected departure came Friday afternoon whilst in negotiations with Viacom (story).

The first plan of action is for UPN to increase its lead over the WB, which also targets the youth demographic. "Competitively, UPN remains on top of the WB, so we have a new enemy to pick on," he said. "Can't pick on ABC and NBC anymore; now I have to go after the WB, and I'm going to."

One of Moonves's other main aims is to lever UPN out of the red, but Viacom president Mel Karmazin has given him "no direct timetable or clock" in which to make the network solvent.

"It's true that one of my goals is to make UPN profitable," he said. "I know you all think Mel is an impatient man, but he's a smart man. He's a businessman. So I think we will have the time to do what we want and get the finances in better shape."

More from Moonves can be found in this Variety article or here at Electronic Media Online.

While UPN has had recent successes with Enterprise and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, its track record with reality shows has been rather shaky. Nevertheless, the network has resolved to try again with Under One Roof.

According to Zap2it, the competitive series is set in Fiji, where several families must outwit each other in order to win a luxury beach house.

Host Rob Nelson was full of enthusiasm for the idea. "It's like a football game," he said. "It's like you're either the Packers or you're the Bears, and you don't win if you screw over your own team. You win if you work together as a team, but families have a hard time working together as teams."

UPN's previous reality efforts, Chains of Love and Manhunt, were less than successful. While the former ended after less than two months on air, the latter show became embroiled in legal problems after accusations that it was fixed behind-the-scenes.

'Under One Roof' was filmed over three weeks in November, but has not yet been scheduled. Further details are available here at Zap2it.

Executive producers of UPN's Monday night African-American comedy series were also present at the TCA press conference, and comments from them about racial diversity in television can be found in this article.

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