WB’s Kellner takes shots at other nets

Jamie Kellner, CEO of The WB TV Network, and Garth Ancier, the weblet’s entertainment president, on Monday questioned rival UPN’s midseason strategy of launching a new sci-fi movie night on Thursdays.

“At Fox, it was really hard to ramp up a movie night,” Ancier said at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena. “It’s a very expensive game.”

Two other networks, NBC and CBS, have each chopped a movie night in favor of series, and UPN is the only network to add a movie next season. The WB does not air movies.

“All the new networks say they’re going to a fourth night, but you’ve got to have the product to put a fourth night on,” Kellner said.

Ancier took a shot at CBS, too, saying his 10-year-old nephew has never heard of the network. The WB, on the other hand, is embracing kids as the key to bringing in new viewers. “If you don’t keep recruiting kids underneath, it’s a risk to your business,” Kellner said.

Kellner also weighed in on the recent management turnover at the other networks, except NBC.

“If the top three automakers all turned over their top management in a 2- to 3-year period, you’d probably say foreign cars are the ones to buy,” Kellner said. “With the exception of NBC (and the WB), there’s not one single team that’s been on the field together for more than a couple of years.”

Separately at the press tour, the WB announced that “Dawson’s Creek” will air at 9 p.m. — rather than 8 p.m. — when it debuts at midseason on Tuesdays. The netlet had been criticized for scheduling it at 8 p.m. because of some adult themes in the show, but Kellner says that although it had been slotted for an 8 p.m. berth, the WB never intended to air the show that early. An established show will likely lead off Tuesday nights, the WB’s newest night of programming.

The netlet also confirmed orders for two new midseason sitcoms: “Kelly, Kelly,” starring Shelley Long, and “You’re the One” with Cynthia Geary.

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