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On the Air

The latest news from the TV beat

Cracking Wise Having placated (for now, anyway) Ellen DeGeneres over the viewer-advisory issue, ABC execs have moved on to a bigger (literally) debate: Just how much of Drew Carey’s butt can the public tolerate?

Carey, a noted strip-club connoisseur, is also a big fan of the British hit movie The Full Monty, in which unemployed steelworkers earn money by exposing all. What better sweeps stunt, thought Carey, who — along with costars Diedrich Bader, Ryan Stiles, Craig Ferguson, and Ian Gomez — will duplicate the movie’s bare-bum finale on the episode airing Nov. 12. (In Carey’s version, the $5,000 raised replaces a dog belonging to his employer; various Monty cast members were on hand to offer support and tips.)

Drew’s producers wanted to give viewers full exposure. After all, if ABC considers Dennis Franz’s backside acceptable, why not Carey’s? But ABC felt otherwise, arguing that the show, unlike NYPD Blue, is a comedy (albeit an occasionally raunchy one) that airs at 9 p.m. Heated debates commenced regarding just whether any, uh, butt crack could be revealed. After figuring out how to strategically place microphones to cover most of the offending area, the argument progressed to just how many inches of cheek could be shown. Eventually, one inch on either side of the microphone was deemed agreeable to all parties. And you wondered why TV execs get paid the big bucks.

You Eediot!!! Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, who departed the cult-hit cartoon in 1992 over creative issues with Nickelodeon, is back in action on the Internet with what may be the Web’s first regular cartoon series. Kricfalusi’s subversive style lives large in The Goddamn George Liquor Program, which chronicles the life of superpatriot George Liquor, American, who’s stuck raising Jimmy, his knuckleheaded nephew, alone after George’s wife dies. The weekly cartoon can be seen at www.spumco.com.

”Tamper free” has become a mantra for Kricfalusi, still cranky over his acrimonious experience with Nickelodeon and its parent, Viacom. The Web, he’s said, ”allows for truly free enterprise in the world today,” while most TV shows are ”tampered with or even created by executives.” Hollywood, the angry Kricfalusi says, ”does not often recognize unique genius.”

Kricfalusi hasn’t completely forsworn the commercial world, however. In 1996, he created an animated spot for Nike featuring the big bad wolf and the three little pigs. Now his Spumco, Inc. will launch an arm to create ads for the Web.

And so on … Chris Spencer apparently doesn’t have the right Vibe. Quincy Jones, exec producer of the struggling late-night talker wanted neophyte host Spencer replaced. The problem was finding someone of stature who was willing to walk into what could be a no-win situation (Vibe averages 1.3 million viewers). Chris Rock, who has a show on HBO and is raking in the bucks as a long-distance pitchman, passed, leaving the spot open for Sinbad. The comedian will begin hosting this week.