UPN: Synergy, yes, but weblet still goes its own way
No repurposing planned from older-skewing CBS
Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/19/2002 8:00:00 PM
"Did I just say 18 to 34?" asked Les Moonves at the UPN upfront last week, recalling that, in his role as president and CEO of CBS, he's the guy who's always telling advertisers it's those older viewers they ought to be paying attention to.
Different strokes, perhaps, for Moonves, who was presiding at UPN's first upfront presentation since officially being acquired by Viacom's CBS. Besides announcing its new schedule, the network also unveiled a new logo. (Memo to affiliates, by the way: UPN doesn't intend to help your station pay for reprinting all that stationery or repainting the news van.)
Moonves left a lot of the heavy lifting for new UPN programming chief Dawn Ostroff, fresh from Lifetime, who was there to present a new schedule heavy on "companion" series that will, in theory, build mini-themes to UPN's five nights of programming. Also, conveniently, Ostroff was busy insisting that, despite WWE Smackdown! (it was WWF until a court gave the initials back to the World Wildlife Fund a couple weeks ago), UPN is not a male network (its audience breaks down to 53% men, 47% women, Ostroff said).
The other message: "Bottom line, The WB seems to target teen-age girls. UPN goes after young adults," Moonves said, adding that, in part because of breakdowns at ABC and Fox in young demos, UPN scored impressive gains in the past season.
In a press conference afterward, Moonves said that integrating CBS and UPN sales is a workable model and that at least one movie company has a deal with Viacom in which the studio will run commercials with the program most appropriate to the audience it's seeking: youngish CSI or oldish Touched by an Angel on CBS, young-adult–skewing Buffy on UPN. "There's a way to sell radio, billboards and television all at the same time. That's what Viacom is all about."
Moonves also said CBS isn't scheduling UPN to make sure the weblet's series don't mess up ratings possibilities for the big network. "That's never come up, and Dawn would killed me if it did."
Two other anti-synergy notes: CBS has no plans to repurpose any series on UPN this season, and, with the new logo and all, it's final: UPN won't be getting a new name.
New for the fall
Half and Half— Rachel True and Essence Atkins star as half sisters who never got to know each other. Now they have become neighbors in the same San Francisco apartment building, but they clash, of course. Part of UPN's Monday-night comedy lineup that targets African-Americans, the show is executive-produced by Yvette Lee Bowser (A Different World and more). From CBS Productions.
Haunted— Matthew Fox (Party of Five) stars as a private investigator who survived a near-death experience that left him haunted by lost souls who can help him solve all kinds of murders. UPN plays this at 9 p.m., following Buffy the Vampire Slayer and presumably appealing to the same eerie sensibility. Executive producers are Emile Levisetti and Keith Addis (both from The Education of Max Bickford). From Industry Entertainment Productions in association with Viacom and CBS Productions.
The Twilight Zone— Forest Whitaker takes over the hosting role with new spooky stories. The remake of the Rod Serling supernatural-anthology show, a hit for CBS from 1959 to '64, will run at 9 p.m. Wednesday following Star Trek spinoff Enterprise. Pen Densham is the chief writer and executive producer, with partner Mark Stern and John Watson. From Trilogy Entertainment Group in association with New Line Television.
Ready for midseason
Abby— The news here is that this sitcom stars Sydney Tamiia Poitier, daughter of the famed actor. She plays a TV sports producer who, in the pilot, is trying to end her interracial relationship with a self-centered oaf played by Sean O'Bryan; neither wants to leave their rent-controlled apartment. Mitchell Kaitlin and Nat Bernstein (creators of The Gregory Hines Show are executive producers. From CBS Productions.
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