After worrying that it would lose Matt Stone and Trey Parker to the lure of big bucks, Comedy Central has snared the creators of its biggest hit, South Park. Expected to be announced Monday, the deal includes new episodes for three more years plus a commitment to air another series.
According to industry executives, Comedy Central beat out more-lucrative proposals from NBC's in-house production unit, The WB and Michael Ovitz's start-up ATG Group.
The network described the agreement only as a "multimillion-dollar" deal, but President Larry Divney said it sweetened some back-end elements of the old package: The pair gets an increased slice of South Park merchandising and a piece of any domestic syndication revenues. "Where we won was the creative environment," he said. "Would NBC studios or whatever let them do what they wanted?"
Creative freedom is not limited to having 6-year-olds swear. After the raid on the home of Elián González' Miami relatives, the production team hurriedly inserted scenes-including Janet Reno dressed as the Easter Bunny accompanying troops to seize Romanian child quintuplet acrobats-in last Wednesday's episode.
Parker, Stone and their agent and lawyer did not return calls for comment.