Fox lineup reshaping Thursdays

Fox Broadcasting Co. today will announce a fall primetime schedule that completely rebuilds Thursday night with two new comedies and a new drama in place of “Martin,” “Living Single” and “New York Undercover.”

All told, Fox is expected to order just five new shows — three dramas and two comedies. Fox’s sister studio, 20th Century Fox, is producing all three of the new dramas but neither of the two comedies that made the fall schedule.

There are few bold moves or surprises, aside from Thursdays, when ABC is also going with new shows from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. against NBC’s dominant lineup. Even though the whole night is new, Fox is sticking with its core strategy of ethnic programming.

The Warner Bros. comedy “Rewind,” starring Scott Baio and Mystro Clark as two best friends who keep flashing back to junior high, is expected to anchor Thursday night at 8 p.m. Following at 8:30 p.m. is a new Columbia comedy, “Between Brothers,” which is about a group of four male friends. At 9 p.m., Fox will air 20th’s “413 Hope Street,” a drama about a New York City Teen Crisis Center that’s produced by Damon Wayans.

“Living Single” and “New York Undercover” are expected to get backup orders and could return midseason. “Martin,” “Sliders” and “Married…With Children” are going away.

Tuesday, Wednesday intact

On Monday nights, Fox is expected to stick with “Melrose Place” at 8 p.m., followed by 20th’s new David Kelley drama “Ally McBeal,” which is about a young female attorney. The web’s Tuesday and Wednesday night lineups will remain intact, with a movie on Tuesday and “Beverly Hills 90210” leading into “Party of Five” on Wednesday.

Friday nights will feature 20th’s new alien drama “The Visitor” at 8 p.m., in place of “Sliders.” Chris Carter’s “Millennium” stays at 9 p.m.

On Saturdays, Fox is expected to keep an hour of “Cops” and “Cops 2,” followed by an hour-long “All New America’s Most Wanted.” Some are speculating that Fox might eventually whittle its reality shows down to a half-hour each and plug in a drama, but the web decided against that strategy for fall.

Sunday will also stay as is, with reality specials leading into an hour of animation, “The Simpsons” at 8 p.m. and mid-season hit “King of the Hill” at 8:30 p.m. “The X-Files” will stay at 9 p.m., where it has become a dominant Sunday night force this season against movies.

Several other comedies are expected to receive backup orders, including Columbia’s “Ask Harriet” and 20th’s “Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place” and “Venus on the Hard Drive.” The web’s main problem was having too few slots for its new comedies, and sources say web heads at one point considered putting four new comedies on Thursdays — a tough sell against NBC’s comedy lineup.

UPN to announce sked

UPN will also announce its new sked today, which features a new night of programming, Thursdays, that will launch early next year. The netlet will go with a movie rather than series on Thursdays, when no other network airs a movie (Daily Variety, May 19).

The Monday lineup is expected to include “In the House” at 8 p.m., followed by “Malcolm & Eddie,” MTM’s new comedy “Good News” (about an urban gospel minister) at 9 p.m. and “Sparks” at 9:30 p.m.

UPN’s ‘Clueless’ Tuesdays

Tuesdays will be led by ABC’s canceled sitcom “Clueless,” followed by “Moesha” at 8:30 p.m., Paramount and MTV’s new sitcom “Hitz,” starring Andrew Dice Clay, and Columbia’s new comedy “Head Over Heels,” which is about a Miami dating service. Wednesdays will stay the same, with “The Sentinel” leading into “Star Trek: Voyager.”

At least one high-profile project is expected to debut midseason too: Columbia’s “Ruby,” which stars David Faustino of “Married with Children” and the voice of Whoopi Goldberg as a diva puppet (Daily Variety, May 13).

In all, UPN has three new comedies and one network comedy transfer for the fall. Two of the four are produced by parent studio Paramount.

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