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Fox schedule notable for what's not there

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Where's Michael Moore and "TV Nation"?

That's one of the questions that was being asked yesterday when Fox announced its new fall schedule.

In January during the winter press tour, new Fox Entertainment President John A. Matoian hailed the network's signing of Moore as part of Fox's new push toward quality programming, which viewers would see in the fall.

But Matoian's announcement yesterday failed even to mention Moore.

"No, 'TV Nation' is not on the fall schedule," Roy Brunett, a spokesman for Fox, said yesterday. "It's not listed as a midseason replacement either. . . . But it's going to get a tryout run this summer, and they'll see how it does."

That's not much of a commitment. But it's better news than some series received yesterday. Five dramas got the ax outright: "Sliders," "M.A.N.T.I.S.," "Medicine Ball," 'Models, Inc." and the critically acclaimed "VR.5." Two tryout sitcoms also got dumped, "The Critic" and "Dream On."

The biggest news about what will be on the Fox fall schedule is that "Party of Five," a series that did as poorly in the ratings as "VR.5," will be back next year. The hour-long drama about a family of siblings living on their own after the deaths of their parents will air at 9 Wednesday nights after "Beverly Hills, 90210." Another series that some thought might be canceled, "New York Undercover," also got the good news that it was renewed.

In terms of changing nights and time periods, "Martin" will move from Thursdays at 8 to Saturdays at 8. That's a fairly risky move that could hurt both "Martin" and Thursday nights for Fox. "Living Single" will move up to the 8 p.m. leadoff spot on Thursdays.

In all, Fox will have eight new series and 11 old ones on its fall schedule. The new series include six sitcoms and two dramas.

The new series are:

* "Space": This hour-long drama is made by the producers of "The X-Files" and centers on a group of first-year military cadets suddenly thrust into the front lines of an intergalactic battle. "Space" will air Sunday nights at 7 before "The Simpsons."

* "Strange Luck": Stars D. B. Sweeney ("Roommates") as a photojournalist who has strings of incredibly good and bad luck. This drama series will take the "VR.5" slot Fridays at 8, leading into "The X-Files."

* "Too Something": Has one thing definitely going for it: The 8:30 Sunday time slot following "The Simpsons." It is a sitcom about twentysomethings.

* "Misery Loves Company": Follows "Married . . . With Children" at 9:30 on Sundays. It features Dennis

Boutsikaris in a sitcom that looks at divorce "from the male point of view," according to Matoian.

* "Partners": Gets a pretty good time period following "Melrose Place" at 9 Monday nights. It stars Jon Cryer ("The Amazing Teddy Z") as the best friend in a sitcom about a guy torn between his best friend and his fiancee.

* "Ned & Stacy": This sitcom airs at 9:30 p.m. Mondays. It's about a marriage of convenience between a young, upwardly mobile advertising executive played by Thomas Haden Church ("Wings") and a woman played by Deborah Messing ("NYPD Blue").

* "Cabin Pressure": Fox says this is a sitcom about "sexy flight attendants." It airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays after "Living Single."

* "The Preston Episodes": David Alan Grier ("In Living Color") plays a college professor who leaves the halls of ivy to pursue his dream of being a big-time journalist. His first job, though, is for a sleazy tabloid. The sitcom airs at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays after "Martin."

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