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Fox Family squeezes ‘Club’ in youthful sked

Exex say $500 mil to be invested in programming

When the Family Channel relaunches as Fox Family Channel on Aug. 15, the cable network will feature entirely different programming from its predecessor, except for one show: Pat Robertson’s “700 Club.”

Fox Family executives said that $500 million will be invested in the network’s programming over the coming years — including the production of 680 episodes of original series and 20 original movies — but it will also air two and a half hours a day of the “700 Club.”

While Pat Robertson’s evangelical Christian show seems at odds with Fox Family’s new strategy of attracting kids, teens and young families with programming with “attitude,” when Fox and Saban Entertainment bought the Family Channel from Robertson, they agreed to run the “700 Club” forever.

Fox Family executives, speaking here at the Television Critics Tour, unveiled the network’s new schedule and announced some of its original film projects.

In addition to the previously announced “The Michael Jordan Story,” Fox Family’s original movies will feature the $10 mil-lion “Casper — A Magical Friendship” and the $8 million “Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish.”

Other titles will include “National Lampoon’s Golf Punks,” starring Tom Arnold; “Earthquake in New York,” featuring Greg Evigan; and “National Lampoon’s Men in White,” starring Donna D’Errico.

Following Fox Family’s 6 a.m.-6 p.m. kids schedule, the network will target adults from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. with three hours of originally produced shows, typified by the homevideo clip show “Show Me the Funny,” and the sketch comedy montage, “Mr. Bill Presents.” On Oct. 19, Fox Family will premiere “The New Addams Family,” a nightly series that will run at 7:30 p.m.

At 9 p.m. each night, the channel will air theatrical movies, such as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” that will be edited down to a TV-G rating.

Fox Family’s TCA presentation included an appearance by Rich Cronin, the network’s president and CEO, who joined the network recently only after a court-enforced sabbatical brought by Cronin’s former employer, MTV Networks. Cronin, who walked on stage to the sounds of the Who’s “I’m Free,” was forced to not start working for Fox Family until his MTV Networks contract expired.

Cronin said that Fox Family decided to ditch Family Channel shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and “Diagnosis Murder” because they drew older audiences and Fox Family is shooting for 2-11 viewers in the day and 18-49 adults in primetime.

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