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UPN, ‘Player’ hooking up

Reality skein boasts bling bling

“The Player” is coming to UPN — and we’re not talking about the Robert Altman feature film.

Net has greenlit up to eight hourlong episodes of a relationship-based reality show that boasts an extra helping of bling bling. Skein, tentatively titled “The Player,” will take an ethnically diverse group of young singles and test whether they have the “player” skills needed to find love (or the reality TV version thereof) in a world of mansions, expensive cars and exclusive parties.

Don Weiner (“Showtime at the Apollo”) is exec producing showrunning the skein, which was created by Cary Woods, Scott Nemes, Happy Walters and Weiner. Skein is targeted for a summer or 2004-05 bow.

Industry insiders familiar with “The Player” said the show will feature singles who are truly gifted at “playing” the opposite sex — as well as those who simply think they’ve got “game.”

“It’s going to be quite funny. Comedy is a big part of the show,” one insider said.

“The Player” will also depart from other “Bachelor”-like skeins by featuring sudden eliminations, with the evicted players having no time to prepare.

UPN was keeping mum on details, but insiders said the show won’t simply start off with one person looking for love from a pool of pre-selected candidates. Still, the show is expected to have a romantic bent at its core.

Pickup for “The Player” comes as the net is basking in strong Nielsens for the second-season premiere of “America’s Next Top Model.”

Net is already using repeats of “Top Model” on Wednesday in place of sci-fi hour “Jake 2.0.” Production has been halted on the latter rookie skein, and the show has been cancelled.

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