UPN Launches Thursday Comedy Block


UPN’s answer to Thursday nights: comedian Chris Rock.

This fall, the network will add a sit-com loosely based on Rock’s childhood, which he is executive producing. Everyone Hates Chris will have the plum 8 p.m. time slot, but the competition is fierce, with NBC’s Joey, Fox’s The O.C.,Smallville on The WB, Alias on ABC and Survivor on sister network CBS all on at the same time.

UPN joins ABC and The WB in gunning for Thursday nights, the most profitable advertising night of the week.

While The WB and ABC are both opting for dramas, UPN sees an opening with a comedy block. “There hasn’t been something this funny on Thursday nights in a long time,” UPN President Dawn Ostroff said at the network’s upfront presentation Thursday. “Unless you count the Donald’s hair,” a swipe at Donald Trump of NBC’s The Apprentice.

Ostroff noted that Joey, the other comedy in the time period, has weakened considerably through its first season.  “We think they are vulnerable and this is an opportunity to have a break-out comedy.”

To make room for  comedies, UPN shuffled WWE’s Smackdown to Friday nights, where it replaces canceled Enterprise.

The other Thursday night comedies include returning shows Eve and Cuts and newcomer Love, Inc., about a group of professional matchmakers seeking love for themselves, starring Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills90210) and Holly Robinson Peete.

UPN is also adding two new dramas, one for the fall and one for midseason.

Sex, Lies and Secrets, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m., features Denise Richards and a group of sexy 20-something friends living in Los Angeles. South Beach, on the bench for midseason, is an equally steamy look at life in Miami, executive produced by singer/actress Jennifer Lopez.

Sophomore drama Veronica Mars is moving to Wednesday nights, where it replaces Kevin Hill.

At last year’s upfront, UPN repositioned itself from its urban roots to a place for young female viewers 18-34 too. Ostroff says her network is having success and nipping at the WB, the leader in attracting young women. “UPN is where the girls are and the boys want to be,” Ostroff said. “They see themselves in our programming.

Following is the new schedule:


 8:00-8:30 PM  ONE ON ONE   
 8:30-9:00 PM  ALL OF US
 9:00-9:30 PM  GIRLFRIENDS
 9:30-10:00 PM HALF & HALF


 9:00-10:00 PM SEX, LIES & SECRETS (New Series)


 9:00-10:00 PM VERONICA MARS


 8:00-8:30 PM  EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (New Series)  
 8:30-9:00 PM  EVE
 9:00-9:30 PM  CUTS
 9:30-10:00 PM LOVE, INC. (New Series)


 8:00-10:00 PM  WWE SMACKDOWN!