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From Usa Today

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Smaller Tv Networks Trading Places (buffy mention)

By Gary Levin

Monday 13 January 2003, by Webmaster

LOS ANGELES - Call it the seesaw effect: Among the two smaller broadcast networks, WB is having a record year and is the only broadcast network to gain viewers, while UPN is on the slide, with core series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Enterprise down sharply.

"It’s no secret that from a ratings standpoint we’re down," CBS Television president Leslie Moonves, who oversees UPN, told TV critics here Sunday. "But a year ago things were reversed." Now, "they’ve had a few more hits than we’ve had ... but the disparity is not that great," with WB averaging 4.3 million viewers to UPN’s 3.8 million.

Gone are the days of mudslinging between the two young-adult-seeking networks.

"I don’t think it’s our job to kick sand on anyone," says WB entertainment chief Jordan Levin. "Where we’re focusing our competition is on ABC and Fox."

What does this mean for viewers?

UPN aims to become "a younger network, a hipper network," Moonves says, embracing interracial casting and also trying for more "quality" programs and a more compatible mix of programming. "It’s important for UPN to have a homegrown hit next year."

Don’t look for Buffy to return next season - "I wouldn’t bet on it coming back as it is," Moonves says - though there’s a chance for some kind of spinoff.

But UPN has high hopes for Platinum, a family drama about the world of hip-hop music due this March. Also due is talent search America’s Next Top Model.

WB’s gains, reversing declines last season, came from new drama Everwood and broader audiences for Gilmore Girls, 7th Heaven and especially Smallville, about a teenage Superman, adding more men to the mix.

So the network is developing new series for fall that feature still more takes on established franchises ranging from Tarzan to MacGyver to The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. And though Levin is leery about the long-term potential for reality series, WB last week had promising premieres for two: High School Reunion and The Surreal Life.

Also being considered for fall: A Gilmore Girls spinoff featuring bad-boy character Jess Mariano (played by Milo Ventimiglia) and his so-far-unseen father. And a new comedy talk show hosted by former WB star Steve Harvey.

For summer, WB plans a six-week live variety series without commercials but filled with product plugs as an experiment.

The network will likely paddle away from Dawson’s Creek, the drama that with 7th Heaven established WB’s teen appeal, because the show’s actors now say they want to move on. For midseason, WB plans Black Sash, a drama starring Russell Wong as a martial-arts mentor, airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT in March; family comedy Grounded for Life, moving from Fox in March to be paired with Reba on Fridays, and On the Spot, a new partly improvised comedy featuring Tim Conway.