UPN signs vet actor to anchor series revival

UPN has signed actor Robert Urich to star as the Captain in its upcoming revival of “The Love Boat,” set to debut Monday, April 13, at 8 p.m.

Now that Urich has joined the cast of the Aaron Spelling drama series, the syndicated talkshow strip he’d been developing at Buena Vista TV is officially dead, sources said. Urich shot a pilot for the talkshow, but stations didn’t buy the project.

Urich has previously starred in “Spenser: For Hire” and “Vega$.” His most recent series, the syndicated “Lazarus Man,” was canceled after Urich was diagnosed with cancer.

Urich, currently cancer-free, will play divorced, retired Navy commander and cruise ship captain Jim Kennedy in “The Love Boat: The Next Wave.” The new version will have more realism and will contain some topical issues. The captain’s troubled son, for instance, will be caught smoking marijuana.

Actor Kyle Howard will play the captain’s 15-year-old son, while Joan Severance (“L.A. Law”) will play the ship’s chief of security, Corey Parker (“Eddie Dodd”) the ship’s physician, Stacey Travis the cruise director, Phil Morris (“Mission: Impossible,” “Seinfeld”) the chief purser and Randy Vasquez (“Acapulco H.E.A.T.”) the bar manager.

UPN has ordered six episodes of the show, which will air through the May sweeps. UPN entertainment chief Tom Nunan said the Monday 8 p.m. slot was chosen to take advantage of the female audience that will become available when Fox’s “Melrose Place” goes on hiatus.

The “Love Boat” will be up against ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” the WB’s “7th Heaven” and comedies on Fox, NBC and CBS.

Production on the series begins next Monday in Los Angeles and aboard Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess. It’s executive produced by Spelling, Duke Vincent and Jonathan Schmock.

Leading out of “The Love Boat” Mondays at 9 p.m. will be specials with series possibilities, including a potential remake of “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Nunan said. Nunan is hoping those specials will perform better than Tuesday’s “UPN alt.games,” which hit the netlet’s all-time low rating of 0.7/1.

“In the House” and “Sparks” will air their final original episodes of the season before April 13 and will go on hiatus until UPN decides whether to bring them back next season. “Sparks” is not expected to return, and “In the House” is on the fence.

UPN will move “Malcolm & Eddie” from Mondays at 8:30 p.m. to Tuesdays at 9 p.m., and “Good News” will move to Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., Nunan said.

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