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UPN's New Burden: Expectations

(Posted August 29, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) A funny thing happened to UPN between May and August. The network that was once the most reliable doormat in the business hooked up with Chris Rock and kept a critical darling named Veronica on its air. The network that gave birth to "Shasta McNasty" was suddenly a buzz magnet.

To be fair, UPN has enjoyed occasional moments in the spotlight. But aside from the growing recognition of "America's Next Top Model," those moments usually had to do with bad programming ("Shasta," "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer"), acquired programming (its pickup of "Roswell" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" from The WB) or stewardship of a franchise (the net's "Star Trek" series).

Last season, however, "Top Model" continued to stake its claim as the network's signature show, routinely beating most of its competition among its target young-female audience. First-year drama "Veronica Mars" became a cause celebre among critics and a small but devout audience, which was rewarded when UPN renewed the show and gave it the post-"Model" time period.


Then came the May upfronts and the introduction of "Everybody Hates Chris," Rock's version of "The Wonder Years." The pilot has drawn raves, and it's audaciously scheduled at 8 p.m. ET Thursdays -- where NBC once established dominance with "The Cosby Show."


"It's a great feeling," UPN Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff says of the outpouring of critical love for the network, which also tied its rival, The WB, in viewers and adults 18-49 last season. With the change in perception, though, comes the burden of living up to the hype.



Source: Zap2it
 


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