More On SmackDown!’s Major Move To Friday Nights

Ryan Clark

LOS ANGELES ( UPN’s new schedule, announced on Thursday (May 19) features a new injection of star power and an aggressive comedy move on Thursday night.

In its ongoing battle with The WB for fifth, UPN has moved “WWE Smackdown!” off of Thursdays and cancelled the heavily hyped freshman drama “Kevin Hill,” aiming for new offerings featuring Chris Rock, Shannen Doherty and Denis Richards. The netlet has also made the under-watched, but critically adored drama “Veronica Mars” the beneficiary of its strongest launching pad.

As usual, UPN’s week begins with a Monday comedy block, powered by “One on One” at 8 p.m. ET. “All of Us” moves to the 8:30 slot from Tuesday night, as “Girlfriends” and “Half & Half” stay in their familiar homes.

UPN will start Tuesday with “Sex, Lies & Secrets,” an ensemble drama featuring Richards and the prolific Eric Balfour (“Hawaii”). Encores of “America’s Next Top Model” will be allowed to tread water in the tough 9 p.m. hour.

New episodes of “America’s Next Top Model” will stay on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., where the dramality modeling series has become the defining show in UPN’s reach for young female viewers. After a difficult season on Tuesdays, “Veronica Mars” gets the coveted post-“Model” spot, a home the network hopes might bring its audience up to the same level as its cult buzz.

Although the Thursday wrestling block was a UPN institution, the netlet has decided to go after what it seems as an untapped comedy market, starting with “Everybody Hates Chris,” narrated by Rock and based on his experiences as a teenager in Brooklyn in the early ’80s. “Eve” takes the 8:30 slot, followed by “Cuts,” earning a second season. Another new comedy, “Love, Inc.,” anchors the night, featuring television favorites Shannen Doherty and Holly Robinson Peete.

“WWE Smackdown!” will now dominate Friday, where its testosterone-driven antics will draw familiar ratings without tainting the rest of UPN’s schedule.

As if the profiles of Rock, Richards and Doherty weren’t high enough, UPN has ordered “South Beach,” from executive producer Jennifer Lopez, for midseason.

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