Nets fine-tune lineups

With ABC nailing down its schedule, industry eyes are starting to turn to Fox and UPN, which can still make last minute changes to their lineups before upfront presentations on Tuesday.

An early Fox schedule making the rounds over the weekend was conservative and held few surprises. The rumored lineup includes three new dramas and just one new comedy, with several midseason backup shows.

According to the blueprint, Fox on Mondays is expected to keep “Melrose Place” at 8 p.m., with the new David Kelley drama “Ally McBeal,” about a young female attorney, at 9 p.m. The net’s movie will probably remain on Tuesdays, and on Wednesdays, Fox likely will stay with “Beverly Hills 90210,” followed by “Party of Five.”

Fox is expected to counterprogram NBC on Thursdays with ethnic programming, as it has in the past. Returning sitcom “Living Single” could start the night, followed by one of two new sitcoms — HBO Independent Prods.’ “Martin” spin-off, “Going’ For Mine,” or Columbia’s “Between Brothers.” The new 20th drama “413 Hope Street” will probably get the 9 p.m. slot. Warner Bros’ comedy “Rewind” is also still a possibility for the night.

‘Visitor’ comes to Fridays

On Fridays, 20th’s alien drama “The Visitor” is expected to lead into “Millennium,” and Saturdays will likely be one-hour versions of “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.” Both of these reality shows could later in the season be pared down to a half-hour, followed by a drama, such as “New York Undercover,” which sources say will be ordered as a backup show. “Undercover” aired on Thursdays this season.

Sundays are expected to remain the same on Fox, with specials leading into “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill” and “The X-Files.”

Fox has also ordered several backup comedies, sources say, including Columbia’s “Ask Harriet” and 20th sitcoms “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” and “Venus.” Disappearing from the schedule are “Martin,” “Sliders” and “Married … With Children.”

Fox long shot moves

A couple of contradictory, and more radical, schedule moves were also running on the rumor mill Sunday, although a source close to Fox said the rumors were probably a deliberate smoke screen leaked to throw competitors off the trail.

Those rumors held that the Tuesday and Friday night lineups might be switched. One source close to Fox, though, said the movie is probably too big an investment to put on Friday nights. The other rumor had “Melrose Place” moving back to Wednesdays after “90210,” and “Party of Five” paired with “Ally McBeal” on Mondays.

Sources say those moves are unlikely because “Party of Five” is not yet established enough to stand on its own with a new show, and the Wednesday night lineup seems to finally be working.

Meanwhile, UPN, which also announces on Tuesday, is expected to pick up four new comedies and no new dramas, with its new night, Thursday, reserved for a movie.

The Monday lineup is expected to be led by “In the House,” followed by “Malcolm & Eddie,” a new MTM “Sparks” spin-off called “Good News,” and returning “Sparks.”

On Tuesdays, UPN is expected to pick up ABC’s canceled sitcom “Clueless,” which will follow lead show “Moesha” at 8:30. At 9 p.m. will be the new Paramount-MTV comedy “Hitz,” which stars Andrew Dice Clay; airing at 9:30 is a new Columbia comedy, “Head Over Heels.” Wednesdays are expected to remain intact, with “The Sentinel” leading into “Star Trek: Voyager.”

UPN shows that won’t return include “Homeboys From Outerspace,” “Goode Behavior” and “The Burning Zone.”

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