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On the Tube: Fox overhauls lineup, UPN adds 'Twilight Zone'

Friday, May 17, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Fox network is tweaking or tearing up its lineup on virtually every night of the week -- except for Saturday -- as it braces for the 2002-03 television season. It is adding four one-hour dramas and three half-hour comedies.

On Sunday, it has scheduled six half-hour comedies from 7 to 10 p.m. as a nightlong alternative for families wanting to end their weekend on a lighter note. In midweek, breakout star Bernie Mac is being promoted to lead-off batter as his series is shifted an hour ahead to 8 p.m.

Missing from the new schedule: "Dark Angel," "Family Guy," "Greg the Bunny," "Temptation Island," "That '80s Show," "Titus" and "Undeclared."

" 'Dark Angel' was a very tough one," Gail Berman, Fox entertainment president, told reporters yesterday. "It's a show we liked and creators that we admire. We felt in the end that we would go with some new programming there because we felt that the newer programming might have some ratings up side for us, but I must say it was a tough decision."

Not everything will premiere in the typical fall season. "We're strategically rolling out the new season, premiering four nights prior to baseball, two after the World Series, and we'll save our Thursday schedule for a big push in December," she said.

And of local interest, Pittsburgh native David Conrad is among the cast listed for "The Time Tunnel," an update of the '60s TV series that could arrive in mid-season. He and Andrea Roth would play part of a team that must go back in time and fight to keep the world as we know it.

UPN, which also unveiled its schedule yesterday afternoon, is adding new dramas "The Twilight Zone" and "Haunted," along with a comedy called "Half and Half." Not finding a home in the fall is "The Hughleys."

Here is Fox's schedule, with new series in bold. Some shows will be delayed by fall sports activities:


7 p.m.: "Futurama" (after NFL season)

7:30 p.m.: "Oliver Beene"-- Grant Rosenmeyer plays the title role, an 11-year-old boy living in 1962 with his dentist father (Grant Shaud), homemaker mother (Wendy Makkena) and brother (Andy Lawrence), a sports fanatic never without his transistor radio.

8 p.m.: "The Simpsons"

8:30 p.m.: "King of the Hill"

9 p.m.: "Malcolm in the Middle"

9:30 p.m.: "The Grubbs" -- The focus of the Grubb family, headed by characters played by Randy Quaid and Carol Kane, is a 14-year-old (Michael Cera). He's a C-minus student and poor athlete in a family that takes twisted pride in the status quo. Hope knocks on the Grubbs' door in the form of a teacher (Lori Rom) who sees the boy's potential.


8 p.m.: "Boston Public"

9 p.m.: "girls club" -- Ally McBeal may be (almost) gone but she's being replaced by three young female attorneys determined to make their mark on the justice system in this reinvention of the legal drama (and lowercase spelling) from David E. Kelley. Playing 27-year-old lawyers in San Francisco are: Gretchen Mol, Kathleen Robertson and Chyler Leigh.


8 p.m.: "That '70s Show"

8:30 p.m.: "Grounded for Life"

9 p.m.: "24"


8 p.m.: "Bernie Mac"

8:30 p.m.: "Cedric the Entertainer Presents" -- Cedric the Entertainer hosts and performs in a variety series that takes its cue from the shows of the 1950s. He will preside over a team of actors, comedy performers and dancers and introduce recurring characters such as the Love Doctor, a marriage therapist, and Mrs. Cafeteria Lady, a judgmental woman working the lunch line.

9 p.m.: "Fastlane" -- Two cops go into the "candy store" -- a warehouse full of seized designer goods -- in Los Angeles in this show starring Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy. Playing their sexy boss is Tiffani Thiessen.


8 p.m.: "30 Seconds to Fame" -- Contestants have 30 seconds to demonstrate a skill to judges and a studio audience. At the end of each episode, a winner gets $25,000.

8:30 p.m.: "Meet the Marks" -- In this hybrid of scripted sitcom and reality show, improv actors work in a real house in a real neighborhood, all rigged with hidden cameras. In each show, "marks" from the outside world will walk into the show and become guest stars, without knowing they're part of a TV episode.

9 p.m.: "Septuplets" -- Four boys and three girls, now 16 years old and known as the Wilde Seven, live with their parents in a small, upscale, family-run hotel on a Southern California beach.

Note: This is the winter lineup. Fall will have movies and specials.


8 p.m.: "Firefly" -- From Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," comes a sci-fi adventure series set 800 years in the future after a universal civil war. It centers on the crew of Serenity, a small transport spaceship.

9 p.m.: "John Doe" -- John Doe (Dominic Purcell) is a mysterious man who "rises from the primordial waters of an isolated island, possessing knowledge of literally everything in the world, yet having no memory of who or what he is." He makes his way to Seattle where he assists the police.


8 p.m.: "Cops"

8:30 p.m.: "Cops"

9 p.m.: "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back"

11 p.m.: "MADtv"


"Andy Richter Controls the Universe" will be back in midseason. Also targeted for midseason is "The Pitts," a comedy about a disaster-prone family. Dylan Baker plays Bob Pitt, a man who figures life could always be worse. When his son is possessed by the devil, he reckons, "You've got to take that 666 and turn it into 999."

Dramas under consideration are "The Time Tunnel" and "Keen Eddie," about Eddie Arlette (Mark Valley) as a New York City police detective who's down on his luck and heads for London where he finds a sexy, opinionated flatmate.

Here is UPN's schedule, with new shows in bold:


8 p.m.: "The Parkers"

8:30 p.m.: "One on One"

9 p.m.: "Girlfriends"

9:30 p.m.: "Half and Half" -- Rachel True and Essence Atkins play half sisters who have only one thing in common and that's their father. Growing up separately, these virtual strangers become neighbors in the same San Francisco apartment building.


8 p.m.: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

9 p.m.: "Haunted" -- Matthew Fox is a former cop turned private eye whose life is changed by a near-death experience. He ends up haunted by lost souls from beyond the grave who help him solve a variety of cases. Russell Hornsby also stars.


8 p.m.: "Enterprise"

9 p.m.: "The Twilight Zone" -- Forest Whitaker, most recently seen on the big screen as one of the intruders in "Panic Room," hosts a new version of the Rod Serling classic.


8 p.m.: "WWE Smackdown!"


8 p.m.: UPN Movie Friday


"Abby" stars Sydney Tamiia Poitier as producer of a popular TV program, "Northwest Sports Report," who has just dumped her boyfriend (Sean O'Bryan). But, because they share a fabulous rent-controlled San Francisco apartment, they agree to remain roommates.

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