UPN Presents Fall Line-up

By Christian
May 18, 2000 - 11:56 PM

As the final network to do so, UPN today announced its schedule for the Fall 2000 season. Building on the success of 'WWF Smackdown!', the network won't be going for a radical change in programming - 3 hours of new scripted shows will be added, and one of these new shows is actually an ABC left-over. In addition, the network will now also be programming on Sundays.

On Mondays, UPN's comedy block, currently consisting of 'Moesha' and that show's spin-off, 'The Parkers', will be reinforced by two new sitcoms. 'Girlfriends' focuses on four African American women, and is co-produced by Frasier's Kelsey Grammer, while 'The Hughleys' is an already established sitcom which ABC cancelled this season.

The Friday night movie block has been shifted to Tuesday, and is currently called 'UPN's Night at the Movies', thought the network is still in negotiations with Blockbuster to continue using the rental store's brand name (it's currently called Blockbuster Shockwave Cinema). UPN executives said they hoped to mine the library of Paramount Pictures for these movies, which would seem to suggest they want to stop filling with the slot with made-for-tv SF movies, as they do now.

Wednesdays will remain unchanged, with 'Seven Days' airing at 8:00pm and 'Star Trek: Voyager' of course at 9:00. Also untouched will be 'WWF Smackdown!' on Thursdays, which UPN Entertainment President Tom Numan said "has given UPN an identity, a brand, a voice."

On Friday UPN will be running two new action shows. 'Freedom' is a martial arts series from 'Matrix' producer Joe Silver, while 'Level 9' is an action series from 'China Beach' producer John Sacret Young, a high-tech internet police drama centering around a new breed of law enforcement.

And on Sundays, according to this Reuters report, UPN will be broadcasting the games of the new XFL (Extreme Football League), something for which they signed the contract only this morning. The XFL is being launched this year by Vince McMahon, owner of the Word Wrestling Federation, and NBC, which will be broadcasting the games on Saturday. It is not known whether the UPN showings will simply be repeats of NBC's, or if they will show different games.

According to UltimateTV's report, UPN told advertisers, "Our new schedule keeps its eye squarely on the prize: young adults, and young males in particular. By staying focused creatively, we strengthen our brand and our relationship with the viewer."

UPN also made announcements on possible midseason replacements. They've ordered the haunted-hospital show 'All Souls', from Aaron Spelling, and the action series 'Special Unit 2', which is described as similar to 'Men In Black' - something which didn't pay off for 'Secret Agent Man' this season. In addition, they've ordered the sketch comedy series 'Out of Bounds' and the claymation comedy 'Gary and Mike', which was previously headed for Fox. As part of the deal with Fox, UPN has also agreed to take over two specials that network no longer wants - "Cheating Spouses" and "World's Nastiest Neighbours".

During the advertisers meeting, UPN also talked about its performance this season. Helped mostly by 'WWF Smackdown!', the network has seen its ratings grow 154 percent among 12-17 year-old males, and 100 percent among 12-34 year-olds. In the 18-49 group for all adults, ratings are up 31% and, perhaps surprisingly considering the strong focus on males, 25% among women 18-34.

More on this can be found in this article on Yahoo! Finance from Bob Tourtellotte, while an opinion article with a more detailed look at the new series is also available. Be warned that for some reason many of the news reports on this don't yet mention UPN will now also be programming Sundays, with the XFL games; perhaps the fact that the contract for that was only signed today meant UPN wasn't able to really promote that yet.

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