ABC Retools 2 Of Its Nights; Net Adjusts Comedy Lineup While NBC Goes For Laughs On Sunday

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After winning the 1994-95 season, ABC is starting over on Thursdays and Saturdays with all new shows, while fine-tuning its Tuesday and Wednesday comedy slates.

NBC, which rose to second place thanks to strong Tuesday inroads and Thursday night domination, has picked Sunday for its third comedy night.

ABC's ratings this season belied its lack of successful new shows. This season's only returning new show is "The Marshal," which will replace Monday's 8 p.m. (ET) comedy hour.

"We know we have to infuse the schedule with new hits," ABC Entertainment President Ted Harbert told advertisers and the media in New York last week.

ABC's five fall comedy pickups will help establish a new Saturday night lineup ("Maybe This Time" and "Somewhere in America"), and strengthen Tuesdays ("Hudson Street") and Wednesdays ("The Drew Carey Show" and Wilde Again").

The network's three drama pickups-"Charlie Grace," "The Monroes" and Stephen Bochco's "Murder One,"-will challenge NBC's Thursday comedy slate and "ER."

NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield touted the network's rebuilt Tuesday night.

"`Frasier' did an amazing job," he said. "Tim [Allen, star of ABC's `Home Improvement'] will be calling Dr. Crane for sessions three times a week."

The network will hone Tuesday nights with the "The Pursuit of Happiness"; Thursdays with "The Single Guy," "Caroline in the City" and the move of "Friends" to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays with "The Home Court."

With "Caroline in the City," NBC and CBS broke down the wall that had separated networks from studios. NBC is buying the show from CBS Entertainment Productions.

Mr. Littlefield said this was the first time in 20 years NBC had not changed Friday.

The lone new drama, "JAG," coupled with "The John Larroquette Show," should appeal to more males early on Saturday nights, while "Sisters," which has a 28-episode commitment, will attract women later on.

Sunday's comedy lineup pairs newcomers "Brotherly Love" and "Minor Adjustments" with former Thursday stalwarts "Mad About You" and "Hope & Gloria," which move to 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. respectively.

UPN will stick to Mondays and Tuesdays for fall. President-CEO Lucie Salhany said UPN remains ahead of schedule in terms of expansion, and that it plans to branch into Wednesdays starting in March.

The only series to return from UPN's first half-season is linchpin "Star Trek: Voyager," from Paramount Television Group, which has an option to take half-interest in UPN later on.

CBS and WB will announce their schedules this week.

Ms. Karlin and Mr. Lafayette are reporters with Electronic Media; EM Los Angeles Bureau Chief Thomas Tyrer contributed to this story.

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