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Fast Track

Show Biz

UPN picked up 10 more episodes of America's Next Top Model, which has garnered UPN some of its best ratings news of the season. The show has improved the net's year-to-year Tuesday 9 p.m. time-period performance by 91% in adults 18-34 and by 70% in adults 18-49. UPN also is changing the title of its new sitcom The Opposite Sex to Eve after the show's hip-hop star. The network hopes to take better advantage of Eve's "worldwide fan base." The show will launch this fall, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET. ...

The laughs were few and far between at Comedy Central
as new owner MTV Networks
swung the long-awaited ax, cutting 80 employees, or about 20% of the workforce. The layoffs were fallout from MTVN's

$1.2 billion purchase of the 50% interest in the network it didn't already own. The highest-profile casualty was Executive Vice President of Affiliate Relations Brad Samuels, who managed the network's dealings with cable operators. Samuels was not surprised, given MTVN's structure. "The industry is hitting a whole new stage of growth," he said, "and I'm looking forward to exploring all kinds of opportunities." ...

President of Ad Sales Larry Goodman
exited, replaced by his top lieutenant, Greg D'Alba
, who will have the title of EVP/COO of CNN's ad sales and marketing. Goodman says he plans to either "retire or resurface in another industry," possibly the energy sector. ...

Craig Erwich, senior drama development executive at Fox, has been named executive VP of programming at the broadcast net. He had been a candidate to head News Corp.-owned cable net FX, a post being vacated by Kevin Reilly, who is going to NBC. At Fox, Erwich will head the drama, comedy and current-programming departments. ...

BET scored its largest audience in its 23-year history for its June 22 BET Awards telecast, which grabbed a stellar 4.3 rating and 5.5 million viewers, 25% more viewers than last year's show. BET's previous record came from a 1996 exclusive interview with O.J. Simpson.

Minority Reports

Hispanics may have overtaken African-Americans as the nation's largest minority group, but you couldn't tell it from prime time broadcast-network TV. That's according to an UCLA
content analysis of 234 episodes of 85 sitcoms and dramas on six broadcast nets last fall. Hispanics constituted 3% of characters in prime time, up from 2% in 2001 but far below their 13% of the population. ...

The Minority Media Telecommunications Council
said it will ask the FCC
to strengthen minority- and gender-recruiting rules for broadcast stations and cable systems in light of last week's Supreme Court ruling upholding the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative-action admissions policy.

Drop and Give Me 20 Episodes

Some 20 syndicators, TV stations, agencies, production companies, and cable nets have been recruited for NATPE's Television Producers' Boot Camp Aug. 1 (quartered at the Wyndham Bel Age Hotel in West Hollywood). Among the participants are Court TV, Dick Clark Productions, FremantleMedia, Hallmark Channel, NBC Enterprises, Buena Vista Television, CAA, Endeavor, Game Show, Tollin/Robbins Productions
and Tribune Entertainment. During the session, wannabe TV producers will pitch show ideas in hopes of walking away with a contract.

Lifetime Achievements

Rick Haskins has been named EVP/GM of Lifetime Entertainment Services, which encompasses the multiple Lifetime cable channels and Web site, as well as book publishing and a magazine. Lynn Picard was named EVP/GM of Lifetime Television Network, overseeing day-to-day operations of the cable channel. She will continue to head sales as well. Both positions are new and report to Carole Black, Lifetime Entertainment Services, president and CEO. Both Haskins and Picard are veteran Lifetime execs.