Fox Broadcasting, which has established itself as a ratings force on Thursday and Sunday nights, will add Wednesday to its schedule beginning July 1, the network said Thursday.
"Melrose Place," a quasi-spinoff of the hit teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210," will debut that night, although its time slot has not been set.
"This is the optimum time to introduce a new night," said Peter Chernin, Fox Entertainment Group president. "We have been the leaders in emphasizing summer programming. We are certainly about to see the other networks jump on that, but it seems like nobody is getting much of this stuff on before late July or early August and we wanted to get on this night as soon as we possibly could."
Fox will be on the air from 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays. Chernin said he hopes to determine the other hour of programming within the next two weeks.
The July 1 start will also give "Melrose Place" a chance to find an audience before NBC figures to grab center stage with its coverage of the Summer Olympics, which begin July 25.
"Melrose Place," which producer Darren Star has described as "thirtysomething" for the twentysomething age bracket, is an ensemble drama about eight young adults living in the same West Hollywood apartment building.
It is the culmination of Fox's season-long effort to develop a spinoff from "90210." Star and Aaron Spelling produce both series, and crossovers between the two are expected.
"From a demographic standpoint, we expect it to be slightly broader than '90210,' since the characters are all four to five years older and we will be able to deal with slightly more mature and older relationships," Chernin said.
One of the "Melrose Place" characters, Jake Hanson (Grant Show)--described in a network news release as a "reluctant 'hunk' who works in construction/carpentry and has an aversion to anything trendy"--was scheduled to appear in the season's final "90210" episode Thursday night, and Fox planned to introduce the rest of the cast afterward.
Fox currently broadcasts prime-time programming Thursday through Saturday, 8 to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 7 to 11 p.m. Once a month it airs a Monday-night movie from 8 to 10 p.m.