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TNN’s Makeover

Never before has a network so shamelessly gone after the male market.


TNN has managed to make itself heard lately. The network, which used to be all Nashville all the time, has remade itself into The Network for Men. It’s a niche market nobody else has quite so blatantly gone after. And there was a burst of publicity better than money can buy when the refurbished network decided to call itself Spike TV — and then Spike Lee sued. You can just imagine the TNN/Spike TV execs huddled in the CEO’s office: “Is this manna from heaven or what?”

Perhaps mindful of the many other well-known Spikes in the universe and perhaps even of the absurdity of his own suit, Spike Lee decided to settle out of court with TNN, provided the company would throw a few projects his way. This is, after all, the business of entertainment, which knows not the meaning of the word shame.

But the new TNN — which will launch the new Spike TV logo as soon as it can get its act together — is clearly the winner in the game of getting yourself noticed by the masses.

Now all it has to do is come up with a schedule that will attract — and hopefully keep — lots of male viewers.

“Stripperella” might just do it, if what TNN/Spike TV wants to attract is hip male animation fans with raging hormones. “Stripperella” is a centerpiece — and the most talked-about show — in the reworked network’s lineup.

Voiced by Pamela Anderson, the lead character is Erotica, a strip-club dancer, who morphs into Stripperella, crime-fighting superbabe, when her special talents are needed. (Anderson is also billed as a “creative consultant” on the half-hour series.)

“Stripperella” plays right to those raging hormones in every animation cell. Her arch nemesis is Pushy Galore, a home-shopping network hostess who’s not above selling knockoff Gucci bags made of human skin. The bartender at the strip club is gay. And there’s a cat named Fluffer who pops up every now and again.

Among her crime-fighting tools, Stripperella packs an invisible tape measure, a lipstick-tracking device (one sloppy kiss and you’re locked into her radar), breast cams (for D-cup close-ups, one supposes) and a bullet-proof nail file. And she’s married to a TV exercise guru named Richard Slimmons, who spends his time packing fudge. Real fudge. Into little boxes.

It won’t come as a surprise to comic-book fans that the man behind “Stripperella” and its quasi-adult, yet always sophomoric humor, is legendary Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee (no relation to Spike Lee). It’s no shock, either, to see touches of imagination and originality in “Stripperella,” even if you’re not a horny 19-year-old.

The success of “Stripperella” — and the early numbers look good for the show — just might open the door to a whole raft of nursery-tale title knockoffs. If Stan Lee and the new TNN have any sense, they’re already working hard on “Booty and the Beast” and “Hump-Me, Dump-Me.”S

“Stripperella” airs 11 p.m. Thursdays on TNN.,/i>

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