NEW YORK — Netlet UPN officially took the wraps off Thursday on a new lineup designed to repair the damage from last year’s ill-fated attempt to reach a broad audience while solidifying its budding image as a destination for young males.
UPN Entertainment prexy Tom Nunan said the net’s late-season success with a WWF wrestling spec and a two-hour “Star Trek: Voyager” telepic has firmed up the mininet’s resolve to go after the underserved male 18-34 demo.
“We know if we build a schedule capitalizing on this audience, our viewership will increase,” he said.
By shifting UPN’s urban-themed block of laffers — which next season will include newcomers “Mo’Nique” and “The Grown Ups” — from Tuesdays to Mondays, execs hope to provide better audience flow throughout the week.
In addition, Nunan said, the number of African-American households using TV “is highest on Monday night,” thus providing a solid base for the netlet’s four black-themed comedies.
UPN will move animated comedy “Dilbert” to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and follow it with “Shasta McNasty,” a half-hour laffer about three Venice Beach hip-hoppers, and “Secret Agent Man,” a spy dramedy from Barry Sonnenfeld, Barry Josephson, Richard Regan and Rick Kellard. Sonnenfeld has vowed to remain active in the production of the skein, UPN topper Dean Valentine said.
On Wednesdays, UPN will keep its lineup of “Seven Days” and “Voyager” stable. It’s the only net not changing its programming on that night.
UPN’s two-hour Thursday wrestling block “WWF Smackdown!” should easily improve the netlet’s numbers on that night and could further weaken NBC with young men.
The UPN sci-fi movie night shifts to Friday and, thanks to some Viacom corporate synergy, will be rebranded “Blockbuster Video Shockwave Cinema,” with the video chain providing in-store promo for the movie night.
Midseason orders at UPN include Warner Bros.’ “The Strip” and the new Barry Levinson-Tom Fontana rookie cop drama “The Beat,” which begins production in Gotham in August. Levinson has inked to direct the pilot.