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Fox putting ‘Batman’ in Sunday slot

Fox Broadcasting Co. will put out the Bat-signal in an attempt to rescue its Sunday lineup, scheduling “Batman: The Animated Series” at 7 p.m. and axing freshman comedies “Great Scott” and “Woops!”

In conjunction with the move, which is effective Dec. 13, Fox will shift skitcom “The Ben Stiller Show” into the “Woops!” slot at 10:30 p.m. and schedule the new Lorimar TV sitcom “Shaky Ground,” starring Matt Frewer, in its vacated 7 :30 slot.

“Great Scott,” from Castle Rock Entertainment, and “Woops!” from Touchstone TV, have been canceled, though unused episodes could be burned off at a later date.

The former has averaged a not-so-great 4.4 rating, 7 share in Nielsen (the same as “Stiller”), while “Woops!”– a last-minute pickup from Witt-Thomas Prods. originally developed for NBC — has averaged a 4.6/8.

By using “Batman” in prime time, Fox hopes the show will provide a fertile cross-promotional opportunity for the Fox Children’s Network, where “Batman” (produced by Warner Bros. Animation) will continue to air Monday through Friday in the afternoon.

Fox has made a major investment in the children’s programming arena, with 19 hours a week–four on Saturday morning, an hour weekday mornings and a two-hour block weekday afternoons, more than the weblet’s current load of 12 hours in prime time.

Cross-generational hit

Fox believes “Batman” can attract young adults in addition to children and teens, reporting that 40% of its weekday audience is 18 or older, an unusual split for an animated series.

In its one previous prime time airing (to pump up its daytime premiere), “Batman” captured a 4.6/11, better than any share for “Great Scott” in that timeslot.

While making the schedule changes, Fox also sought to give a vote of confidence to “Ben Stiller,” from HBO Independent Prods., which has garnered some critical acclaim but scant audience at 7:30.

“Great Scott” and “Woops!” mark Fox’s first cancellations of the nine series it’s introduced, although the drama “The Heights” has been put on hiatus.

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