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'Whatever' On UPN

By Amy
March 17, 2001 - 10:58 AM

Struggling netlet UPN continues its round of changes this week, both on the programming front and in its relationship with its affiliates.

First of all, the netlet has just ordered a pilot for the new comedy series 'Whatever'. Created by 19-year-old actor/writer Jarrett Grode, the show was passed over first by rival network Fox before being snapped up by UPN.

The show promises to feature an authentic teenage voice. "I wanted to avoid kids talking about the prom or kids that come up with long soliloquies about existential angst," Grode said. "For my friends and I, high school was mostly about boredom -- four years to kill. And when you're that bored and have that much free time, you can develop a really weird sense of humor."

Another show that UPN is currently developing is 'Dead Zone', based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The network just announced that the series will star Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Smith, a man whose psychic powers could end up changing history. A few days ago, entertainment site Ain't It Cool News posted a rumour that stated Hall had been cast in Series V, but this new 'Dead Zone' report, of course, makes that rather unlikely.

Meanwhile, UPN announced on Wednesday that starting June 5th, it will be replacing its traditional single annual meeting for local stations with a series of meetings based according to region (New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco). The move is a direct bid to help decrease tension between the network and its affiliates as both sides continue to struggle with both an increasingly fragmented market and decreased advertising revenues.

Steve Carlston, UPN's executive vice president in charge of affiliate relations believes that the change will "better addresses the changing times in the broadcast business". David Hanna, chairman of the board of governors for UPN affiliates, agrees. "Conceptually, the idea of being able to get the head honchos in front of regional managers is ideal to me. It's one-on-one, much more productive. They get some direct feedback," he commented, but then added that "What they do with it will be the important thing."

For more information on the UPN affiliate policy change, follow this link, while more information on 'Whatever' can be found here thanks to the Hollywood Reporter. Finally, more info on 'Dead Zone' can be found here.

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