‘Soul’ segueing to UPN as ABC settles sked

Aykroyd sitcom, others not renewed as new shows move in

NEW YORK — ABC has decided not to renew the Dan Aykroyd sitcom “Soul Man” next season, but UPN is in serious talks to pick up 44 episodes of the series, sources say.

The comedy, from Wind Dancer and Disney, started out as a midseason show two seasons ago and anchored ABC’s Tuesday lineup at the start of the season last fall. The show was then moved to a different time period, taken off the schedule and brought back later in the season.

Although former “Ellen” exec producer Tim Doyle is expected to lead “Soul Man” if it survives next season, Disney wants to sell the comedy to another studio. UPN’s parent studio, Paramount, is the likely buyer, although price and license fees are the sticking points and are still being hammered out. Talks were proceeding Sunday but it was unclear whether a deal would be reached by the time UPN announces its schedule Thursday, if ever.

“Soul Man” wasn’t the only ABC show on the chopping block. Universal TV’s “Something So Right” did not make the cut and it’s the second year in a row — last year by NBC — that the series was dropped at the 11th hour. With those two sitcoms departing, ABC on Sunday began ordering new series in advance of its schedule unveiling on Tuesday.

Among the ABC series expected to wind up on the fall schedule: Warner Bros.’ drama “Vengeance Unlimited” and the comedy “Two of a Kind,” an Olsen Twins starrer for Friday; Columbia TriStar’s dramas “Cupid” and “Fantasy Island,” probably for Saturday night; Touchstone TV and Imagine TV’s “Sports Night” for Tuesday or Wednesday; Witt-Thomas Harris sitcom “Secret Lives of Men” for Tuesday or Wednesday; Universal TV’s “Brother’s Keeper” for Friday; and Greenblatt-Janollari’s “D.L. Hughley” for Tuesday or Wednesday.

DreamWorks’ “It’s Like You Know” and 20th Century Fox’s midseason comedy “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” are also in contention for a Tuesday or Wednesday slot, although one is likely to go midseason.

The WB netlet also ordered several new series for fall and midseason, including four new dramas: Warner Bros. TV’s “Hyperion”; Touchstone and Imagine’s “Felicity”; and Spelling TV’s “Charmed” and “Rescue 77.” The WB also ordered three new comedies for the fall: WB’s “You’re On With Kate”; Touchstone’s “Zoe’s Bean”; and Castle Rock’s “The Army Show,” which is expected to air Sunday behind “Unhappily Ever After.” Two more comedies, Universal’s “Movie Stars” and the ani-mated series “Baby Blues,” will likely air midseason.

While the WB is still working on its schedule, sources say Thursday is likely to be the new night of programming, filled mainly with ethnic comedies. The WB announces its final sked Tuesday.