Chris Rock wants to be UPN's secret weapon for Thursday nights. For fall, the network is adding Everybody Hates Chris, a sitcom loosely based on Rock's childhood that he'll narrate, scheduling it on Thursdays at 8 p.m. Competition is fierce in that slot: NBC's Joey, Fox's The O.C., The WB's Smallville,
ABC's Alias and, oh yeah, Survivor on sister network CBS.
“There hasn't been something this funny on Thursday nights in a long time,” UPN President Dawn Ostroff said at the upfront presentation. “Unless you count The Donald's hair,” a swipe at Donald Trump of NBC's The Apprentice.
To make room for other comedies, UPN is shuffling WWE's Smackdown! to Friday nights, where it replaces cancelled Enterprise. Another Thursday-night newcomer is Love, Inc., about a group of professional matchmakers.
At last year's upfront, UPN told advertisers it would chase women 18-34. Ostroff claims that UPN is closing in, but The WB still pulls in more young femmes.
UPN's other big move: Sophomore drama Veronica Mars is moving to Wednesday, replacing Kevin Hill. Veronica Mars will get a strong lead-in from UPN's America's Next Top Model.
Sex, Lies & Secrets (drama, Tuesdays at 9): Denise Richards stars in ensemble drama about sexy L.A. twentysomethings. From Axelrod/Edwards Company and Paramount.
Everybody Hates Chris (comedy, Thursdays at 8): Loosely based on Rock's childhood in a tough Brooklyn Italian neighborhood (his character attends Corleone Junior High). A brief preview had the crowd roaring. Rock co-wrote and executive-produced pilot. From Chris Rock Enterprises and Paramount
Love, Inc. (comedy, Thursdays, 9:30): Shannen Doherty and Holly Robinson Peete are matchmakers seeking love in their own lives, too. Up against CSI and, The Apprentice they could be very lonely. From Chase TV, The Littlefield Co. Burg/Koules and Paramount
South Beach (drama, midseason): Three New Yorkers move to steamy South Beach. Jennifer Lopez is executive producer. From Nuyorican, Flame and Paramount.
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