UPN mixes genres to bridge audience gaps

'Rock Me,' 'Mullets,' 'Opposite Sex' among net's new series

HOLLYWOOD — UPN plans to go with the flow this fall, constructing a schedule the net believes will be more cohesive than in the past.

The netlet has struggled with flowing its audience throughout the week as it catered to African-American sitcom viewers, young female drama fans, sci-fi fans and testosterone-fueled wrestling junkies, depending on the night.

UPN’s new schedule will attempt to combat that problem by introducing a four-comedy Tuesday lineup that is designed to bridge the net’s urban Monday sked and male-oriented Wednesday fare. Tuesday could be the missing link in the quest for 18-34 viewers, said UPN Entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff.

“We’re confident we know this audience better than we ever have,” Ostroff said, announcing the net’s sked to advertisers on Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden.

More laffers

By scheduling two four-comedy blocks, UPN will air even more sitcoms than its parent web, CBS. “It’s where we’ve had the most success,” Ostroff said.

Tuesday night will kick off in the first hour with unconventional family laffers “One on One” and “All of Us,” both of which boast predominantly African-American casts but which UPN believes have strong crossover potential.

At 9, the laughs turn more adult and male-skewed, with new Dan Cortese vehicle “Rock Me Baby” leading into fellow frosh “The Mullets” — which, from the looks of it, appears to be the natural heir to past wacky UPN laffers like “Shasta McNasty” and “Homeboys in Outer Space.”

“Mullets” got the biggest laugh of the day, just by title alone — although it was difficult to tell if advertisers were laughing with — or at — the concept. Ostroff called it the “smartest stupid show on TV.”

Different ‘Trek’

Meanwhile, netlet said it isn’t giving up hope on “Enterprise,” UPN’s flagship “Star Trek” series that suffered a major ratings hit this season. “Enterprise” will switch gears and focus on a new mission: Saving the Earth from being destroyed by a rogue alien group.

And UPN sales chief made a push for “WWE Smackdown!,” which Viacom will sell to advertisers for the first time this year. WWE formerly handled the show’s ad time.

UPN upped the cool factor by bringing out hip-hop star Eve, star of UPN’s new Monday laffer “The Opposite Sex,” who kicked off the presentation with a perf.

Even CBS topper Leslie Moonves got into the act. “How about a shout out to Eve,” he said. “Trust me, playas, her new show is going to be off the hizzle.”

But the coolest thing of all? UPN’s presentation was the fastest paced and clocked in at the shortest length of any network’s.

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