‘Voyager’ to dock

UPN eyes 'Kombat' as 'Trek' skein shutters

UPN is in discussions to return the “Mortal Kombat” franchise to television next season, just as it says farewell to network linchpin “Star Trek: Voyager.”

“Voyager,” the weblet’s inaugural, longest-running and second-highest rated skein, will close up (space)ship in May 2001 after seven seasons. In preparation, the show will air a special two-hour edition in November.

Just hours after UPN half-owner Chris-Craft announced plans to sell its stake in the network to co-owner Viacom, UPN Entertainment prexy Tom Nunan made the program announcements Monday during an pre-upfront meeting with advertisers on the Paramount lot.

“Voyager” debuted as a two-hour movie the same night as UPN’s launch, Jan 16, 1995. It was consistently UPN’s top-rated series until this season, when “WWF Smackdown” took that crown. The Paramount series entered off-net syndication this fall.

This season, “Voyager” has averaged a 3.5 Nielsen household rating/5 share and 5.2 million viewers.

New ‘Trek’

According to a Paramount release, a new “Star Trek” skein is in the early stages of development. Rick Berman is creating it and exec producing with Brannon Braga.

Meanwhile, UPN plans to air “The Mortal Kombat Federation of Martial Arts” as a sweeps special this May. The live-action, scripted program, which pits fighters against “dark warriors” in arena fights, will also serve as a backdoor pilot for fall.

As currently skedded, “Federation of Martial Arts” will appear on Friday, April 28, at 9 p.m. following a one-hour WWF wrestling special.

Vidgame roots

“Mortal Kombat,” the videogame-turned-$4 billion industry from Threshold Entertainment, was last seen on TV as the Warner Bros. Television Distribution action hour “Mortal Kombat: Conquest.”

“Crusade” was sold to TNT and in firstrun syndication, but lasted only the 1998-99 TV season.

Larry Kasanoff and Alison Savitch will exec produce the new “Federation of Martial Arts.”

UPN has also added Fox TV Studios’ “The Big House” to its alternative development sheet. “The Big House” follows four women and three men as they spend a week living together in a dream home. The contestants compete for a chance to win the house.

Nunan also announced that the network will again launch its fall sked early, off the promotional push of “The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards.” UPN will, in addition, air “The 2001 WWF Slammy Awards” next season.

Separately, UPN chief operating officer Adam Ware confirmed the network is in talks with the WWF about a primetime berth for the company’s XFL football league next midseason. UPN would probably expand to a sixth night, Sunday, if the deal goes through.

UPN parent Viacom is said to be interested in investing in the XFL.

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