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News Tops E! Agenda

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E! Entertainment Television says it's shooting to be TV's CNN of entertainment news. To get there, E! is launching eight entertainment news series in 2001-02, executives said Tuesday.

E! will launch four series in the fall and four more early next year. The shows will start as weekly series and eventually convert to primetime and late-night strips once enough episodes are in the can. Combined with the three series E! announced at the winter Critics Tour, the cabler will roll out 11 series over 11 months starting in June.

The news-oriented series, to be produced in-house at E!'s Hollywood production studios, will mostly fill spots in the 6 p.m.-midnight schedule. "We're trying to develop new franchise shows for E!," E! president Mindy Herman said. "We want E! to be TV's premiere destination for fans of entertainment -- to take viewers inside the business that we spend all our time covering and telling stories about."

E!'s new program slate is a marked departure from last year when E! launched its first scripted series, "Hollywood Offramp," and four original movies. "Offramp" is off the air.