Spike gets ‘Zilch’

Cabler taps Leguizamo toon for young men

NEW YORK — Viacom’s Spike TV has signed a deal with John Leguizamo to create “Zilch & Zero,” an animated series geared to young men.

Zilch and Zero are videostore employees “who are completely geeky about movies and not at all socially adept,” said Kathy DeMarco, Leguizamo’s production partner.

Spike TV is the new name for TNN, and its goal is to become the cable destination for men, much as Lifetime is for women.

Spike TV president Albie Hecht said, “I call this project personality-driven animation.”

If there’s a showbiz model for the two characters, one of whom will get Leguizamo’s voice, Hecht cited the movie “High Fidelity” with John Cusack and Jack Black, who have a similar obsession, only with records instead of movie DVDs.

Leguizamo is just as nuts about movies as his two characters, DeMarco said.

“He’s always riffing with his friends about movies,” she said, adding he hopes to capture some of that byplay in the series.

Hecht said Spike has committed to the pilot, which will be done using Flash animation, a relatively inexpensive method.

If it goes to series, Hecht said “Zilch & Zero” would fit perfectly within Spike’s two-hour Wednesday-night animation block, which kicks off next month with “Stan Lee’s Stripperella,” starring Pamela Anderson; “Gary the Rat,” with Kelsey Grammer; and fresh half-hours of “Ren & Stimpy.”

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