MTV Studios is reviving another classic MTV series, Celebrity Deathmatch. The recently launched studio is developing a reimagined version of the cult-favorite claymation stop-motion satire that skewered celebrities, politicians and everyone in between during its famed original 1998-2002 run. Ice Cube is attached to star and will executive produce alongside his partner Jeff Kwatinetz through his Cube Vision production company. Series creator Eric Fogel will return to executive produce as well, with additional showrunners and talent to be named shortly.
The all-new Celebrity Deathmatch will be shopped as a weekly series to premium and streaming networks in 2019. The show is the first step in a plan for reinventing the franchise across consumer products, gaming, theatrical and more.
MTV in June announced the creation of MTV Studios with exploiting library IP as a main goal and an initial slate that included a reimagining of MTV’s animated comedy Daria, an update of the unscripted series Made as well as a live-action remake of animated sci-fi series Aeon Flux and a return of the network’s reality series The Real World, largely for digital platforms. They recently were joined by an Undressed revival as the first of the studio’s reboots found a home when MTV Studios made a deal for The Real World at Facebook.
“We’re excited to grow our partnership with Ice Cube and Cube Vision to reimagine this fan favorite,” said Chris McCarthy, President of MTV, VH1 and CMT. “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.”
Celebrity Deathmatch, co-executive produced by Cube Vision’s Ben Hurwitz, expands Ice Cube’s relationship with MTV Networks. Cube Vision is producing Hip Hop Squares, a take on the classic game show Hollywood Squares, for MTV sibling VH1.
“Happy to once again be working with Viacom and MTV on a fan favorite like Celebrity Deathmatch and to continue our success together,” said Ice Cube.
Celebrity Deathmatch is highly regarded as an incubator for top comedic talent, including bestselling author A.J. Jacobs (1999-2002) and writers and producers who went on to contribute to comedy staples from The Simpsons to Key and Peele, Family Guy and more.
The original series premiered on May 14, 1998, and ended on October 20, 2002, airing for 75 episodes (you can watch a trailer below). A TV special, Celebrity Deathmatch Hits Germany, aired in June 2001. Reruns of the series aired for a brief period that year on UPN.
A revival of the series premiered in 2006 on MTV2, without involvement from Fogel. The premiere drew over 2.5 million viewers, becoming MTV2’s highest-rated season premiere ever. It was canceled again in 2007 after two seasons. In April 2015, MTV2 announced a reboot of the series, but the pilot ultimately was not picked up to series.
Ice Cube/Cube Vision are repped by WME. Fogel is repped by Gotham Group.