UPN pins its sked hopes on wrestling

3 comedies join lineup

NEW YORK — UPN is going after young men on Thursday with two hours of wrestling, while the netlet’s ethnic comedy block shifts to Monday and its movie to Friday.

UPN, which announces its fall schedule today, has ordered three new comedies: Columbia TriStar TV’s Jaleel White starrer “The Grown-Ups,” Col’s Neal Moritz-produced hip-hop comedy “Shasta McNasty” and Big Ticket’s “Moesha” spin-off “Mo’Nique.” The netlet also has ordered one new drama, Columbia’s retro spy series “Secret Agent Man.”

The new Monday lineup will be led off by “Moesha” at 8 p.m., followed by “Mo’Nique” at 8:30, “The Grown Ups” at 9 and “Malcolm & Eddie” at 9:30.

Sensing an opportunity in the anticipated departure of Fox’s “King of the Hill” from the timeslot, “Dilbert” moves from Monday to Tuesday at 8 p.m. Following it is the new young, male-skewing comedy “Shasta McNasty” at 8:30 p.m. and “Secret Agent Man” at 9 Columbia TriStar TV produces every show on UPN’s Tuesday schedule.

Wednesday will remain intact, with the drama “Seven Days” leading into “Star Trek: Voyager.” Thursday features two hours of “WWF Smackdown!” wrestling, which drew a large audience in UPN terms when it aired on Thursday as a special last month. The two-hour movie shifts from Thursday to Friday, and it will air under a new name, “The UPN Blockbuster Shockwave Cinema.”

UPN’s schedule clearly represents the shift away from middle-American programming that categorized last fall’s schedule and back toward the netlet’s original strategy of attracting young men.

Because UPN went with two hours of wrestling instead of one, the heavily touted Warner Bros. drama pilot “The Strip” did not make the fall cut, but it’s expected to get a midseason pickup.