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MTV Studios continues to mine its vault with the hopes of delivering a hit for a platform outside of Viacom.
The studio arm of the Viacom-owned cable network is reviving Celebrity Deathmatch, with Ice Cube joining as an executive producer and lead member of the voice cast. An outlet is not yet attached; MTV Studios will shop the revival to streaming, cable and broadcast networks.
Celebrity Deathmatch is following the same strategy the June-launched MTV Studios used for its revival of The Real World, which ultimately was picked up to series at Facebook Watch. It’s part of a larger plan from Viacom CEO Bob Bakish to give new life to some of its better-known properties as a part of a company-wide mandate to further monetize library content as the media conglomerate looks to bolster its bottom line.
The stop-motion satire that took aim at stars, politicians and everyone in between was created by Eric Fogel, who will exec produce the revival alongside Cube and his Cube Vision partner Jeff Kwatinetz, with the company’s Ben Hurwitz on board as a co-EP. Additional showrunners and talent will be named later.
MTV Studios, overseen by MTV president Chris McCarthy, hopes to produce Deathmatch for a third-party outlet in 2019 as part of a larger reinvention that Viacom hopes will include consumer products, gaming, theatrical and more. MTV Studios has also made other hits from its vault, including Daria, Aeon Flux and Made, available as part of its library push. The Real World thus far is the only series to land a distributor.
Deathmatch extends MTV’s relationship with Ice Cube, who also exec produces Hip Hop Squares for MTV corporate sibling VH1.
“We’re excited to grow our partnership with Ice Cube and Cube Vision to reimagine this fan favorite,” said McCarthy, who recently added oversight of Viacom’s CMT to his purview that includes MTV, VH1 and Logo. “Deathmatch was the meme before memes, remains a hot topic on social media and will be a smart, funny way to tackle the over-the-top rhetoric of today’s pop culture where it belongs — in the wrestling ring.”
Deathmatch ran for six seasons (totaling 93 episodes) from 1998-2002, and with a revival running from 2006-2007 on MTV2, featuring stop-motion versions of celebrities like Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest facing off in a boxing ring. The series became a pop culture phenomenon, complete with a video game. MTV2 attempted to revive the show a third time and filmed a pilot in 2015, but the new take was passed over a year later.
Ice Cube is repped by WME. Fogel is with Gotham Group.
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