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May 17, 2001  •  Post A Comment

UPN picks up ‘Roswell,’ adds two other series

UPN, looking as if it should be called The WB II on Tuesday night, finalized an order for 22 episodes of “Roswell” to serve as a 9 p.m. (ET) lead-out from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for next fall.

Along with those two major drama pickups, UPN unveiled its fall schedule to advertisers Thursday in New York with only two other new series orders — the prequel “Star Trek: Enterprise” for 8 p.m. Wednesday and the comedy “One on One” for 8:30 p.m. Monday. With “The Hughleys” moving to 8 p.m. Monday and the addition of “One on One,” 6-year-old charter sitcom “Moesha” is officially getting its cancellation slip.

Grabbing the headlines, though, will be the 22-episode order for modest sophomore performer “Roswell,” which The WB canceled early Wednesday. Hollywood talent agency sources believe UPN agreed to pay about a 10 percent hike on “Roswell’s” license fee, taking it up to about $1 million per episode.

The Tuesday tandem of “Buffy” and “Roswell” will now face off against The WB’s highly acclaimed “Gilmore Girls” and the Superman teen prequel “Smallville” starting next September. The last time two network series moved in tandem from one network to another was when sitcoms “Family Matters” and “Step by Step” jumped from ABC to CBS in 1997.

Addressing The WB’s contention that “Buffy” was losing desirable demographics, UPN Entertainment President Tom Nunan said, “All kinds of propaganda [is] going back and forth. The truth is … this was a major get.”

UPN President and CEO Dean Valentine addressed another aspect of the “Buffy” controversy, namely, the charge by The WB that it had been desirable to cancel an “aging” series.

“‘Buffy’ will be our version of ‘Diagnosis Murder’ 30 years from now,” Mr. Valentine said.

On the profitability question, Mr. Valentine asserted that it is coming “soon” and that the acquisitions of “Buffy” and “Roswell” “will radically accelerate that process.”

Meanwhile, “The Hughleys,” another show financed by Fox Entertainment Group under its deal with producer Greenblatt-Janollari, will get the lead-off position on Monday nights in place of “Moesha.” Newcomer “One on One,” which will be executive-produced by Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari and Eunetta Boone for Viacom’s Paramount Network Television, will get the 8:30 p.m. Monday lead-out slot. “The Parkers” (Big Ticket) and “Girlfriends” (Grammnet/Paramount) will continue to hold the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Monday slots.

On Wednesday, the “Enterprise” (Paramount) will take flight at 8 p.m. while modestly received sci-fi drama “Special Unit 2” will close the 9 p.m. hour.

Thursday will mark the third-season return of “WWF Smackdown!” from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. After starting its movie night on Tuesdays with a modest degree of success, UPN is moving the film showcase to Friday night.

In terms of midseason pickups, UPN has a back order on Stephen King’s adaptation of “The Dead Zone” starring Anthony Michael Hall, from Paramount Network Television and Lions Gate Television.

UPN also announced a six-episode order for “Manhunt,” the “hunters” game from the World Wrestling Federation. It will debut in July.

Included in UPN’s specials next season will be two one-hour American versions of the “Iron Chef” series that has proven so popular for the Food Network. “Iron Chef Showdown in Las Vegas” will be hosted by William Shatner. The “Iron Chef Showdown” specials are being produced by the Larry Thompson organization and Lions Gate Entertainment. Mr. Thompson, a veteran TV producer, acquired the American rights to the “Iron Chef” series from Fuji TV.

UPN’s fall 2001 schedule:


8 p.m. “The Hughleys” (Greenblatt-Janollari Studio)

8:30 p.m. “One on One” (Paramount Network Television)

9 p.m. “The Parkers” (Big Ticket)

9:30 p.m. “Girlfriends” (Grammnet/Paramount)


8 p.m. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (20th Century Fox/Regency Television)

9 p.m. “Roswell” (20th Century Fox/Regency Television)


8 p.m. “Star Trek: Enterprise” (Paramount)

9 p.m. “Special Unit 2” (Paramount)


8 p.m. “WWF Smackdown!” (Titan Sports)


8 p.m. UPN Night at the Movies (various studios)

‘Temptation Island,’ ‘X-Files’ will be back at Fox: Fox announced a fall lineup Thursday that as expected has two new dramas, three new sitcoms and “Temptation Island II” and sends “Dark Angel” to Fridays, the night that hatched “The X-Files” but has otherwise been inhospitable to scripted programming.

Fox entertainment executives said that Robert Downey Jr. will not return to “Ally McBeal” next season but other “A-list” guest stars are in the works.

David Duchovny will not return to “The X-Files,” but Gillian Anderson is contracted to appear in every episode next season, when Annabelle Gish will become a regular.

Talks continue with “X-Files” creator Chris Carter about whether he will be executive producer of or consultant to the show in its ninth season. “The question is whether he’s going to be the last person out of the building each night,” said Sandy Grushow, president of Fox Television Entertainment Group. “It’s a lifestyle question … an emotional commitment, a lifestyle commitment.”

No decision has been made on the return of “Boot Camp,” Fox executives said.

Fox executives also denied that Fox’s advertising division is anything but “very bullish” on “Temptation Island II,” which has reportedly been difficult to sell commercial time in.

Entertainment President Gail Berman said “Temptation” will be expanded but said the total number of episodes is still to be determined. She said it will run at least into the first quarter of 2002.

Mr. Grushow said that “24,” a real-time thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland as a CIA agent, “has the ability to become this season’s water cooler program.”

Wednesdays will start with “Fox Family Comedy Wheel,” an umbrella for repeats of the network’s “classic” comedies: “The Simpsons,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “That ’70s Show” and “Grounded for Life.”

Only the network’s successful Sunday and Monday nights will return intact. Tuesday will include two new shows — “Undeclared,” a college comedy, and “24.” Wednesday will end with “The Bernie Mac Show,” written by “The PJ’s” producer Larry Wilmore and starring one of the comedians from the big-screen hit “The Original Kings of Comedy.”

On Thursday the network will revive “The Family Guy” to start the night, followed by “The Tick,” which had been previewed by Fox a year ago, and “Temptation Island,” which Mr. Grushow characterized as Fox’s “big Howitzer” against NBC’s hit comedies and CBS’s hit “CSI: Crime Scene Invetigation.”

“Dark Angel” has a shot at breaking Fox’s Friday night jinx because it has had a year to grow into a hit and has broader appeal than previous attempts to establish scripted programming on that night, which Mr. Grushow described as “perhaps too narrow” in target audience.

“Emma Brody,” a drama about a young diplomat in London from Jersey Television and 20th Century Fox Television, is scheduled for a six-week run in “Ally McBeal’s” Monday time slot in spring.

“Greg the Bunny,” the long-awaited Steve Levitan Productions/Original Films/20th Century Fox Television comedy set behind-the-scenes of a puppet show, was announced as a backup comedy.

Here is Fox’s fall schedule:


7 p.m. “Futurama” (20th Century Fox)

7:30 p.m. “King of the Hill” (20th Century Fox/Original Films)

8 p.m. “The Simpsons” (20th Century Fox/Gracie Films)

8:30 p.m. “Malcolm in the Middle” (20th Century Fox/Regency)

9 p.m. “The X-Files” (20th Century Fox/Ten Thirteen Productions)


8 p.m. “Boston Public” (20th Century Fox/David E. Kelley Productions)

9 p.m. “Ally McBeal” (20th Century Fox/David E. Kelley Productions)


8 p.m. “That ’70s Show” (Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Co.)

8:30 p.m. “Undeclared” (DreamWorks)

9 p.m. “24” (20th Century Fox/Imagine)


8 p.m. “Fox Family Comedy Wheel”

8:30 p.m. “Grounded for Life” (Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Co.)

9 p.m. “Titus” (20th Century Fox)

9:30 p.m. “The Bernie Mac Show” (20th Century Fox/Regency)


8 p.m. ”
The Family Guy” (20th Century Fox)

8:30 p.m. “The Tick” (Columbia TriStar)

9 p.m. “Temptation Island II” (Rocket Science Laboratories)


8 p.m. “Dark Angel” (20th Century Fox and Cameron/Eglee Productions.)

9 p.m. “Pasadena” (Columbia TriStar/Brad Grey Television)


8 p.m. “Cops I” (Fox TV Stations Productions/Langley Productions)

8:30 p.m. “Cops II” (Fox TV Stations Productions/Langley Productions)

9 p.m. “America’s Most Wanted” (STF Productions)

Wald heads to ‘Today’: NBC News proved the conventional wisdom correct when it announced Thursday that Jonathan Wald will become executive producer of “Today” and Steve Capus will succeed Mr. Wald as executive producer of “NBC Nightly News.” The appointments take effect next week.

Still up in the air is what’s next for Michael Bass, the senior producer who has been running “Today” since Jeff Zucker became entertainment president in January.

Mr. Bass is said to have been told that NBC would like keep him.

Also still to be decided is who succeeds Mr. Capus as executive producer of MSNBC’s “The News With Brian Williams.” Speculation centers on Bret Marcus, whose resume includes stops at NBC-owned newsrooms, ABC News and, now, CNBC.

Favorable verdict for Marcia Clark: As had been expected in recent weeks, Twentieth Television has turned former prosecutor Marcia Clark, known for her work on the O.J. Simpson case, from temp to permanent fixture on “Power of Attorney.” After a successful guest appearance that spiked ratings in a number of metered markets, including a 67 percent jump in New York, the syndicator has opted to sign on Ms. Clark as a regular on the strip next season.

The move follows another shift in the courtroom as Judge Lynn Toler will replace current Judge Andrew Napolitano on the bench beginning this fall.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications