UPN tries to get off the ropes with strong wrestling hold

May 21, 1999|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Prime-time wrestling is the big news in the fall schedule announced by struggling UPN yesterday.

UPN's entire Thursday night will consist of two hours of the "WWF Smackdown!" wrestling show, the kind of network programming we haven't seen since prime time in the early 1950s on networks like DuMont. This is the brave, new future of network television?

Other new series will include the return of Jaleel White in a sitcom titled "The Grown-Ups," and a spinoff from "Moesha," "Mo'Nique."

UPN will schedule its African-American sitcoms on Monday next fall, adding "Mo'Nique" and "The Grown-Ups" to a night that starts with "Moesha" and ends with "Malcolm & Eddie."

"Dilbert," the animated workplace sitcom that came on-air in January, will move to Tuesdays where it will be teamed with a new sitcom, "Shasta McNasty," and the retro spy series, "Secret Agent Man."

"The Beat," a new drama from Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana about rookie cops in Manhattan, was not on the fall schedule. It is expected for midseason. The series will film in New York.

Overall, UPN seems to be returning to its original game plan of targeting young male viewers, as opposed to the more mainstream broadcasting it attempted with disastrous results this year. It is also an attempt by the network to distinguish itself from the successful WB, which has targeted female teens.

Fall lineup (new shows are bold-faced)

Here is the fall UPN schedule:

Monday

Moesha 8

The Grown-Ups 8: 30 Mo'Nique 9

Malcolm & Eddie

Tuesday

Dilbert 8

Shasta McNasty 8: 30

Secret Agent Man 9

Wednesday

Seven Days 8

Star Trek: Voyager 9

Thursday

WWF Smackdown! 8

Friday

The UPN Blockbuster Shockwave Cinema 8

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