CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- Spike TV has come clean about the recent disappearing act by its animated block "The Strip." In an interview with Television Week, Kevin Kay, executive VP of programming and production for Spike TV, confirmed both series are alive and well at the network, as is its "Ren & Stimpy's Adult Party Cartoon."
"We played them a lot," Kay said in the interview. "They were all over the schedule and did well, and at one point we thought, 'Let's take them off' so they don't burn out. And it's so funny, because I've been hearing rumors that 'Stripperella' had been canceled before it even went on the air." He went on to say both "Stripperella" and "Gary" will complete their 13-episode runs in the first quarter of 2004. No decisions however have been made on second seasons for either series.
As for "Ren & Stimpy," the delay over airing new episodes is reportedly due to a lack of delivery from production company Spumco and creator John Kricfalusi. "John is an incredibly talented artist and he doesn't want to let anything go until it's finished," Kay said. "He wanted to tweak it a bit more, and we probably pushed him a little fast." Only five of the nine ordered episodes have aired, the last of which was broadcast in late July. Spike hopes to have the four remaining installments ready when its fellow animated brethren return in early 2004.
Overall, "The Strip" has been a modest success for the relaunched network. "Ren & Stimpy" averaged 826,000 viewers, "Stripperella" averaged 801,000 and "Gary the Rat" garnered 755,000 for their initial runs, all double-digit time slot increases from the previous year. Kay is hoping "The Strip" will eventually follow the model developed by Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim," which features a rotating stable of animated series. To that end, Spike has about a dozen and a half projects in development. Kay detailed three in the interview:
-- "The Immigrants": "Rugrats" producer Klasky Csupo is behind the series, a broad comedy about two tenement dwellers (voiced by "Will & Grace's" Eric McCormack and "The Simpsons'" Hank Azaria) seeking success in their new country. Six episodes have been ordered for an April or May 2004 start date.
-- "Zilch & Zero": John Leguizamo is developing a project at the network about two slackers working in a video store who try to draw lessons from their favorite movies. Spike has tentatively targeted the series for a summer 2004 launch.
-- "Howard Stern: The Teenage Years:" The popular shock jock's early days will be the focus of the project which is in the scripting and design stage. Stern will executive produce and may provide narration, but an actor will voice his character.
Lastly, Kay spoke of his hopes to expand into more video game-related programming as evidenced by the network's upcoming Video Game Awards. "We want to figure out how to use video games as a part of animation for a series that taps into what the experience is like," Kay said. "We're experimenting with found footage. I think it could be big."
For the complete interview, click here.