UPN to rebuild - Broadcasting & Cable

UPN to rebuild

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After September and October saw UPN's ratings drop precipitously from last year, the network is in a rebuilding stage, CBS president and
CEO Leslie Moonves and UPN Entertainment [resident Dawn Ostoff said Sunday.

That starts with midseason shows Abby, a sitcom, and Platinum,
a drama about two brothers who own a record company in the hip-hop industry.

UPN this spring also will air reality show America's Next Top
Model
, executive-produced by supermodel Tyra Banks and Making the
Band
's Ken Mok.

While Moonves admitted that the network has been struggling, he was upbeat
about UPN's future.

Last year, UPN increased its advertising revenue by 25 percent over 2001, and
the network also has been adding distribution.

Starting April 1, Moonves said, UPN will add a primary affiliate in St.
Louis.

Moonves also said UPN has cut its revenue losses by more than 50 percent,
with WWE Smackdown! on Thursdays the network's most profitable night.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which moved to UPN from The WB last year, has
seen its ratings decline somewhat, but the show still performs higher for UPN on
Tuesdays than any program on that night since 1997, improving ratings for the
night by 55 percent.

Moonves wouldn't say whether this season would be Buffy's last,
although Ostroff said the network is in talks with the show's creator, Joss
Whedon, and Twentieth Century Fox.

Another spinoff, like The WB's Angel before it, is also possible,
Moonves said.

Viacom's goal for UPN, Moonves said, is to improve the quality of the
networks' shows across the board and to give it more of a unified identity.

"I want UPN to be viewed as a younger network, a hipper network, a quality
network," Moonves said. "I don't think we have quite the a quality we would like
on a lot of our shows, on a lot of the nights that are there. I think I would
like to see the network expand to more than five nights, if possible, into other
dayparts. I'd like to see it become a fuller network to obviously represent
something that CBS doesn't."

For fall, UPN is working with Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith on a
family-based comedy; Mel Gibson on a show about con artists who work stings for
good; John Millius on a military project called Delta; and hip-hop artist
Eve in a comedy set in the world of fashion.

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