Originally created 12/24/01

MTV back in business with '[filtered word]'



With a new multi-tiered deal with MTV, "[filtered word]" star Johnny Knoxville on Wednesday compared his volatile relationship with the music channel to a struggling marriage.

"In business, as in marriage, you'll have your differences," Knoxville said.

"But when there are children involved, it's best to work it out."

Having abruptly quit "[filtered word]" on MTV in August, Knoxville and the music channel have mended fences with the announcement Tuesday of three TV specials, a feature film based on the show and possibly a spin-off.

Knoxville said these projects will bring a proper close to the show that made him an overnight star. "It was very, very important for us at MTV to stay in business with someone ... we consider a cut above," said Brian Graden, president of programming for MTV.

Among the developments announced:

- A feature film based on the series will begin production in the spring, with a tentative release date of late 2002, Graden said.

"[filtered word]" co-creator Jeff Tremaine will direct. Filmmaker Spike Jonze will be the executive producer. Tremaine and Jonze are partners with Knoxville in a Los Angeles-based production company.

MTV did not disclose a budget figure for the movie or the dollar amount of the entire deal. "It's not nearly as much as it would be to make 'Titanic,' " Knoxville joked.

Tentative plans call for filming to be done abroad, perhaps in Japan or Australia. There's also talk of trying to include cable TV wildlife hunter Steve Irwin in a segment.

Other celebrities are being mulled as well. Fans of the TV series include Marilyn Manson, P Diddy and Brad Pitt, who made an appearance on the show. Knoxville has said he would like the feature film to be 90 minutes long and contain racy stunts and pranks to merit an R rating.

Graden termed the movie's content as having "extravagances and innovations that you didn't necessarily see in the series."

The TV show's cast would be featured in the film, too.

- Three "[filtered word]" specials are slated for 2002 on MTV. When those specials will air or what they will contain were not immediately clear. However, Graden said they will probably be "theme" episodes in the same vein as the "Gumball Rally 2001" special done earlier this year.

- Popular series regulars Steve-O and Chris Pontius may star in a spin-off to air on MTV. Details of the series are still being negotiated.

One scenario for the spin-off might have Steve-O and Pontius traveling around the world pulling pranks.

"From what I understand, we'd go to a part of the world and go upset people," said Steve-O, whose given name is Steve Glover. "We're not looking to upset people, but we just have a knack for it."

"[filtered word]" is currently in reruns on MTV.

When announcing his exit last summer, Knoxville said the series had run its course. "With this kind of comedy, people become inured to the shock value," he said.

New episodes of "[filtered word]" are typically among MTV's highest-rated weekly programs. Repeats haven't fared as well. "We run them mainly for the fans," said Graden.

He said the show will continue to run on MTV for the foreseeable future.

The music channel has been wooing Knoxville and his crew for months and even ran a commercial announcing a new season of episodes during negoitations.

Knoxville and crew did 24 episodes of "[filtered word]," which debuted in October, 2000. During its run, the show drew criticism from parental groups for its wreckless antics.

Fans also imitated its stunts. One Connecticut boy suffered serious burns and a Kentucky boy was hit by car while reenacting segments they saw on the show.

Knoxville surprised MTV officials by announcing last August in an exclusive interview with the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel that he wasn't interested in doing the series anymore.

Disgusted with what he perceived as MTV's lack of interest in promoting the show, Knoxville eyed his feature film opportunities.

Among his upcoming projects for the big screen: He will play a two-headed alien in "Men in Black 2," due in the summer of 2002, and he co-stars with Tim Allen in the comedy "Big Trouble," slated for release in April.