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UPN’s ‘Chris’ Rocks Buyers

May 23, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The show that arguably drew the biggest applause and laughs from last week’s network upfront presentation audiences-largely comprising advertising buyers-was “Everybody Hates Chris” from UPN.

That’s especially good news for “Chris.” Since buyers are poised to plunk down billions of ad dollars for commercial spots in the new season, their opinions are the ones that count most.

At least one such executive, Stacey Lynn Koerner, who analyzes programming as executive VP and director of global research integration at Initiative, acknowledged UPN’s “Chris” was her favorite after all the new network shows were presented. She also gave the thumbs up to ABC’s “Commander-in-Chief,” The WB’s “Related” and “Just Legal,” NBC’s “E-Ring” and CBS’s “Out of Practice” and “How I Met Your Mother.” The shows she thought were less likely to succeed included CBS’s “Ghost Whisperer” and ABC’s “Night Stalker.”

Ms. Koerner said UPN was smart to put “Everybody Hates Chris,” about comedian Chris Rock’s life when he was 13 years old, on at 8 p.m. Thursdays to attract an African American audience that’s been underserved in that time period in recent years by Big 3 network comedies.

Ms. Koerner liked Tuesday drama “Commander-in-Chief” from ABC in part because it should appeal to fans of “The West Wing,” which NBC is moving from Wednesday to Sunday this fall.

Two WB shows also seemed appealing, she said. “Related,” a drama about four sisters, “is definitely a chick show, but that’s OK. It’s coming out of `One Tree Hill,”‘ she said. The other WB show she liked was “Just Legal” with Don Johnson and Jay Baruchel (“Million Dollar Baby”).

“I like The WB shows,” she said. “Maybe that’s just my demographic.”

Ms. Koerner also thought NBC’s Pentagon drama “E-Ring” had a good chance, as did CBS comedies “Out of Practice” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

Less likely to succeed was CBS’s “Ghost Whisperer.”

“I’m not sure [`Ghost’ lead] Jennifer Love Hewitt is believable as a psychic,” Ms. Koerner said. “If I have a scary dream, I don’t walk around in my underwear behind curtains.”

She also thought that ABC’s “Night Stalker” looked scary but faced too much tough competition on Thursday.

“How many series about aliens and the supernatural are people going to watch?” she said. By the same token, she added, two “Apprentices” on NBC may be too much. “It takes a lot of emotional energy” to follow one of those shows from week to week, she said.

Overall, Ms. Koerner said, there were a lot of good new shows on display last week and they were distributed across all the networks.

“Next year should be a good year for network television,” she said.