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FOX JUMPS INTO FRIDAY NIGHT FRAY

It's Friday night, what are you planning to do? Head to the video store, go out to eat, go bowling or go to a movie? Network television will try to change your habits this fall when Friday night becomes a hot night.

Fox announced Thursday that it is moving its popular high school drama, "Boston Public," to Fridays along with its spring sitcom success starring Wanda Sykes, "Wanda at Large."

This follows ABC's decision to move "George Lopez" and "Life with Bonnie" to Fridays, NBC's move of last year's best new drama, "Boomtown," to Fridays and CBS' move of its popular military series, "JAG," there, too.

Friday is a traditionally a low-viewing night. Clearly, the networks think they can get viewers back, even though "John Doe," "Fastlane," "Mister Sterling" and several other shows failed to click there this past season and were canceled.

Fox moves "Wanda" to 8 p.m. Friday, where it will compete with "George Lopez," which has the same producer. "Boston Public" moves to 9 p.m. Friday, where it will compete with "JAG."

The Friday moves of two popular series seem like a desperate by Fox to revive itself on a night it hasn't had a hit since "The X-Files."

Channel 29's network had a resurgence this season, thanks largely to the reality series "American Idol" and "Joe Millionaire." It had more difficulty with its new scripted series. Besides spring-hit "Wanda," it is returning "Oliver Beene" this fall but putting it on at 7 p.m. Sunday when it is bound to be bounced often by NFL and baseball games.

The renewal of "Cedric the Entertainer" was a mild surprise. "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" and "The Pulse" were canceled.

Here's a summary of the new shows:

"Skin," 9 p.m. Monday: University of Buffalo graduate Ron Silver does his alma mater proud, playing a Los Angeles porn film mogul in this provocative Romeo and Juliet romance about a Latino teen, Adam, and a wealthy Westside girl, Jewel. Adam is the son of the district attorney (played by Kevin Anderson, last seen wearing a collar on "Nothing Sacred") who is trying to bring down the porn mogul. The mogul happens to be Jewel's father. From prolific producer Jerry Bruckheimer, this "character-driven" series (that's what Fox is calling it) will follow "Joe Millionaire 2."

"A Minute with Stan Hooper," 8:30 Wednesday: Norm McDonald, the old Weekend Update host on "Saturday Night Live," stars as a TV news reporter married to Penelope Ann Miller who moves from New York City to Wisconsin to see how real people behave, and is surprised by the answer.

"Tru Calling," 8 p.m. Thursday: A sexy college graduate student (Eliza Dushku of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") works at a New York City morgue and goes back in time to head off tragedies she knows are going to happen.

"The O.C.," 9 p.m. Thursday: A soap opera set in rich Orange County that hopes to last longer than the last Fox soap set in California, "Pasadena." Peter Gallagher and Tate Donovan are among the stars. It will premiere in the summer.

"Luis," 8:30 p.m. Friday: Luis Guzman, whose face may be more familiar than his name, follows "Wanda" as an opinionated, gruff doughnut shop owner and landlord in Spanish Harlem surrounded by an oddball collection of characters.

"The Ortegas," 8:30 p.m. Sunday: A hybrid scripted and improvisational comedy about a young comedian (Al Madrigal) with a talk show studio in his own backyard. Originally produced for NBC, it gets the prized slot after "The Simpsons." Cheech Marin is among the stars in this series based on a BBC hit.

"Arrested Development," 9:30 p.m. Sunday: Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi ("Ally McBeal") star as siblings in a comedy for the times -- it's about a family that tries for laughs after its wealthy patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor of "The Larry Sanders Show") is charged with accounting fraud. Film producer Ron Howard, whose company produces the series, also will narrate it.

UPN, which is carried locally on WNLO-TV, Channel 23, canceled "The Twilight Zone" and has decided to replace it and the retiring "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with comedies. It has four new comedies and only one new drama. A brief summary of the new series:

"The Opposite Sex," 8:30 p.m. Monday: Grammy Award-winning Hip Hop Singer Eve stars in a romantic comedy that follows "The Parkers." It co-stars Ali Landry of "Spy TV."

"All of Us," 8:30 p.m. Tuesday: Duane Martin is an entertainment reporter who falls in love with a kindergarten teacher (Elise Neal) in a comedy based loosely on the domestic life of feature film star Will Smith and his actress wife, Jada Pinkett Smith (who are co-producers). It follows "One on One," which moves from Monday.

"Rock Me Baby," 9 p.m. Tuesday: Dan Cortese ("Veronica's Closet") is a shock radio DJ who will be in trouble with his boss if he plays a different, safer tune after becoming a new father.

"The Mullets," 9:30 p.m. Tuesday: No, it doesn't star Doug Flutie. It's a buddy comedy about twentysomething roofers and brothers who have the same haircut. Loni Anderson plays mom, who recently married a game show host (John O'Hurley of "Seinfeld.")

"Jake 2.0," 9 p.m. Wednesday: A drama with a premise that sounds like something from "The Twilight Zone." It's about a computer technician who has an accident, turns into a superhero (played by Christopher Gorham of "Felicity") and becomes a secret agent.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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