Flush from the success of the theatrical hit “Beavis and Butt-head Do America” and MTV’s critically acclaimed weekly series “Daria,” Abby Terkuhle has been handed the keys to the MTV Animation kingdom as the division’s new prexy, it was announced Wednesday.
In his new post, Terkuhle — currently executive VP and creative director for MTV — will keep his creative director title while adding responsibilities overseeing all aspects of MTV’s animation development and series production from the network’s New York-based animation studio.
Terkuhle’s domain will also include heading up all animated film and TV projects for MTV Prods.
The money is there for Terkuhle to play with. Last September, MTV Networks announced a $420 million commitment to animated film and TV production, which Terkuhle will use to help develop new ideas and talent in the animation world.
Among the forthcoming projects with which Terkuhle is being entrusted is a sequel to “Beavis & Butt-head Do America,” involving “Beavis” creator Mike Judge. Terkuhle says that MTV and Judge are “in negotiations” for that follow-up to the film that had surprising box-office clout last summer. It enjoyed the largest-ever December opening with a $20 million first weekend, tallying $62 million domestically in all.
The proposed sequel has been very tentatively penciled in for a 1999 premiere, Terkuhle said.
Also on the horizon are a direct-to-video “Aeon Flux” animated film project (not to be confused with the previously announced live-action feature in the works through MTV Prods.). And the instant popularity of the “Beavis & Butt-head” spinoff “Daria” resulted in an additional 26-episode order of the sassy cartoon comedy.
“What’s exciting for me in taking this position is that Viacom has such a huge commitment to animation,” Terkuhle said. “The success of ‘Beavis & Butt-head’ and now ‘Daria’ shows us there is really a significant young adult audience out there for animation, and that allows us to take it to the next level both on and off MTV.”
Both Comedy Central and HBO have plans to cash in on the adult direction in animation, with the former readying a subversive series titled “South Park” and the latter slating a pair of latenight animated shows (one from controversial creator-producer Ralph Bakshi) that will purportedly carry racy, even risque, content.
“We’ve pioneered a lot of the adult animation trend,” Terkuhle added, “and we plan to continue to do it in a major way. Animation is a great brand extension for MTV. It’s the visual equivalent of music.”
Besides having produced the “B&B” feature, Terkuhle’s accomplishments at MTV include bringing the Emmy-winning “Liquid Television” to the network. He also oversaw the development and production of “MTV Oddities” and introduced MTV’s audience to Peter Chung’s oft-surrealistic “Aeon Flux.”
Terkuhle has the next generation of “Liquid TV” premiering on MTV this summer with “Cartoon Sushi,” an animated variety show that “will allow us to test a lot of ideas.”
“Abby has the vision and creative relationships that have helped put MTV on the pop-cultural map,” said MTV prexy Judy McGrath. “…Having him focus exclusively on animation will ensure that MTV maintains its groundbreaking, leadership role in the community.”