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UPN ‘Mars’ lands on sib

Skein to air on sister net CBS

“Veronica Mars” is heading into CBS’ orbit.

In a first for the Eye, net has apparently agreed to air four episodes of UPN’s critically loved drama to expose the low-rated skein to more viewers. Warner Bros. TV-produced hour, from exec producers Joel Silver and Rob Thomas, snagged a second-season greenlight despite its Nielsen troubles.

Move marks the first time CBS will air programming from sister net UPN. A few years ago, UPN briefly ran repeats of CBS’ “The Amazing Race.”

Eye plans to air a double shot of “Mars” on July 29 from 8-10 p.m. Two more episodes will air Aug. 5 and 12 at 8 p.m.

Move is low risk for CBS and could have a big upside for UPN.

CBS won’t have a regularly scheduled series in the Friday-at-8 slot until the fall, when “Ghost Whisperer” premieres. “Mars” will essentially give CBS three weeks of what, to most of its audience, will be firstrun fare.

UPN, meanwhile, gets to expose its signature returning drama to a much broader audience. Net has already been airing a repeat of the show’s first season in its new 9 p.m. Wednesday night timeslot in advance of the “Mars” season-two premiere Sept. 21.

Key CBS affiliates were briefed on the plan before it was finalized, insiders said. Scheduling is expected to be announced today by UPN entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff.

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