UPN retools new ‘Hitz’ and ‘Head’

UPN is reworking its upcoming sitcoms “Hitz,” with Andrew Dice Clay, and “Head Over Heels” in order to “tone down” their content, UPN CEO Lucie Salhany said Wednesday.

Producers of “Hitz” told an audience at the TV Critics Assn. Press Tour in Pasadena that they will be adding a strong female character, who will to stand up to Clay’s character Jimmy. The move may be in response to complaints that the show is misogynist. The character Jimmy, execs also revealed, was patterned after Sony music chief Tommy Mottola.

“He’s a caricature of somebody we know who runs a record company,” Salhany said. “It’s supposed to be very edgy and funny. Now was it a little too far? Does it need to be cut back? Yes, we think it should be cut back a little bit.”

“Head Over Heels” will also be reshot, in part because “we felt that it was a little over the top,” Salhany said.

The departing UPN CEO also looked back on her years in the business as one of the highest-ranking female execs in Hollywood: “It hasn’t been the easiest thing being a woman in the business,” she said. “But I’ve got to tell you, there are a lot of African-Americans … it hasn’t been easy for them … Hispanics. I think there are people in the gay community that have had difficulties.”

As to another high-ranking female exec in town who’s currently facing troubles, Salhany said she hopes ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses stays at the web. Tarses was recently leapfrogged when ABC named Stu Bloomberg chairman of the entertainment division.

“I personally would hate to see her not there, because there is no real diversity in any of the networks then,” said Salhany, who quit her former post at News Corp. under similar circumstances. “I just hope Jamie does what’s going to make her feel really good about herself. She’s a very talented woman.”

Salhany also said the UPN operating committee is “talking to people slowly” about her replacement, and “I know there are many people at the network they’re talking to.”

Salhany’s No. 2 exec, Len Grossi, is known to be lobbying for the job, and sources say he may have a shot at it. UPN Entertainment president Mike Sullivan also revealed several projects in development at the netlet, including:

n “Wishful Thinking,” a new high-concept Billy Riback script about a man who can make wishes come true. The show, from Columbia TriStar, is based on an old Danny Arnold script called “The Life and Times of Leonard Paltry”;

An A.R. Gurney sitcom;

Dan Gunzelman’s adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s play “Henceforward …” into a futuristic sitcom about a father, a daughter and their robot;

Bruce Wagner sitcom “South of Wilshire,” about a family in Beverly Hills trying to keep up with the neighbors;

Rae Dawn Chong sitcom about a woman and her sisters, who all have different fathers, running a business together. Kathy Green is executive producer;

Montel Williams in a family sitcom;

Amy Heckerling sitcom about male roommates;

“The Bumps,” a wacky physical comedy from Adam Rifkin and HBO Prods

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