Sunday's LAT conducted a forensic investigation into the cause of the death of The WB, determining that the network never really recovered from losing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to UPN in 2001. With UPN's foot temporarily in place on The WB's throat, parent company Viacom then brought in its closer to try and finally deliver the death blow:
Then, in 2002, UPN got something it never had: a charismatic leader who hated more than anything to lose. Leslie Moonves, who had engineered the successful turnaround of CBS, was asked by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone to fix UPN.
Moonves took the challenge seriously, cutting costs by consolidating some of UPN's operations with those of CBS, including marketing, research and publicity. He recruited a veteran programming executive from the Lifetime cable channel, and then encouraged top producers and other Hollywood talent, who had long turned up their noses at the "Smackdown!" network, to change course and bring their business there.
"Finally, UPN had some direction," Sternberg said.
As we all know, even Moonves' leadership couldn't finish off the Dancing Frog, and with the creation of The CW, he's now overseeing the annihilation of both networks. Ten years hence, when we're all gathered for our mandatory weekly worship at Los Angeles' CBS Square, the UPN Incident will play as a minor second-act complication in the brief, introductory documentary playing on the Jumbotron installed in the chest of the 100-foot-tall, bronze Moonves Colossus. We'll all cast our eyes downward for a second or two, recognizing that the noble sacrifice of UPN was a necessary speedbump on the road to Our Leader's inevitable galactic dictatorship.
- 'Buffy' Fight May Have Slain Two Networks on the Edge [LAT]
- Previously: Making The CW: Maybe We’re Not Stuck With The Name [Defamer]