TNN said Tuesday that it has tapped John Kricfalusi, creator of the early '90s animated cult classic, to produce all new adventures featuring the perpetually perturbed asthmatic Chihuahua Ren and his gullible feline friend Stimpy.
The deranged duo will star in six original episodes that will air in prime-time as part of TNN's adult animation block that will also include Stan Lee's new series, Striperella (featuring the, um, talents of Pamela Anderson), and Kelsey Grammer's Gary the Rat.
"Ren & Stimpy was a revelation. Along with The Simpsons ( news - Y! TV), it was a major catalyst for the animation renaissance that happened during the 1990s. We are looking forward to seeing what mayhem John has in store for America's favorite Chihuahua and tubby tabby," says Albie Hecht, president of the Viacom-owned TNN. (Formerly the Nashville Network, the cable net has recast itself as the National Network, a general entertainment channel.)
Kricfalusi, who provided the original raspy voice for Ren (including the catchphrase "You Eeee-diots!") during the 'toon's first season on Nickelodeon in 1991, will be handling vocal chores for the new episodes, which will be produced by his company, Spumco. Several of the show's original writers and animators--including Jim Smith, Richard Pursel and Vincent Walker--are also back for more.
"I am very happy to be back at work on what is one of my favorite projects," says Kricfalusi. "The whole gang is back--it's just like the old days--only ruder!"
While everyone's all happy-happy now, things weren't so great between Kricfalusi and Viacom just a few years ago. Kricfalusi was fired during the show's second season in 1992, after butting heads with Nickelodeon executives who wanted him to tone down the show's gross-out humor (which paved the way for South Park) and trippy story lines.
Nickelodeon (also owned by Viacom), which controlled the show's rights, replaced Kricfalusi and continued to pump out Ren & Stimpy through 1995.
That same year, Kricfalusi slapped a $100 million lawsuit on Viacom, accusing the media giant of copyright infringement and withholding licensing rights from Kricfalusi. The two sides eventually reached an out-of-court settlement that gave Viacom full control over the Ren & Stimpy property.
While the wait has been a long one, the good news for Ren & Stimpy fans is that Kricfalusi & Co. will have carte blanche this time around to take the show as far out there as they like--since the 'toon's target audience is now adults.
And to meet the high standards he's set for his pet creations, the network has agreed to allow Kricfalusi to produce just six episodes for the first season, something which he did on the original series to maintain quality control and visual consistency, since new animators will be working on the show.
In addition to the six new episodes, TNN will also air all 52 original episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Kricfalusi's non-Ren credits include The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, The New Jetsons and the Fox Kids series The Ripping Friends, as well as the Rolling Stones "Harlem Shuffle" video. In 2000, he also signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Icebox.com to generate content for the online animation site.
The new Ren & Stimpy Show episodes will debut in 2003.