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CBS Aligns With Mars

CBS will give some cross-promotional push to co-owned UPN's low-rated Veronica Mars

Viacom announced Thursday that CBS will air four episodes of co-owned UPN’s Veronica Mars beginning next week, but UPN President Dawn Ostroff reinforced that the two networks remain separate entities.

“I want to be perfectly clear that UPN is not a farm system for CBS,” Ostroff said Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “We are our own vibrant network with a distinct target audience.” 

CBS will air two episodes of the UPN drama – including the pilot – Friday, July 29 at 8 p.m., and then air another episode each of the following two Fridays. 

CBS will air episodes that are more closed-ended than others in an effort to make the show accessible to first-time viewers.

Veronica’s move again raises questions about when and if programming may shuffle between the sister networks.

“The Veronica Mars broadcast on CBS represents a positive way in which the divisions under [Viacom Co-President] Leslie [Moonves] can work together to support each other,” Ostroff said. “But as we said, the two networks have two separate and independent development pipelines to feed their respective networks.”

The subject also came up again regarding UPN’s Everybody Hates Chris, which just about everybody in the TV critic ranks loves and a subject of questions all week about why it is not on CBS.

“Believe me, we are thrilled that all of you like the show enough, and think it is good enough to put on the number one network, but we got it, we produce it, and we’re broadcasting it,” Ostroff said.

And as the buzz has built for Chris, which is based on the childhood of actor and comedian Chris Rock (who co-produces and narrates), UPN has found itself in the unfamiliar situation of wanting to temper expectations for the show, which will air Thursdays at 8 p.m.

“We are trying to be realistic about our expectations,” Ostroff said.  “The fact is, this is a fiercely competitive time period and we are going to put our best foot forward.”