Tim Stack
January 19, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Once, it was Pop-Up Video. Then came Behind the Music. Now, VH1 has a new savior: Flavor Flav. On Jan. 8, the premiere of I Love New York — a sequel to the high-rated dating show Flavor of Love, starring Flavor runner-up Tiffany Pollard (a.k.a. New York) — grabbed 4.4 million viewers, an all-time high for a VH1 debut. The good news comes as the network readies another spin-off, Charm School, in which comedienne Mo’Nique tries to tame 20 ill-behaved Flavor rejects. But how long can VH1 spin ratings gold out of Flav’s grill?

According to MTV Networks Music Group president Brian Graden, the sometime rapper’s appeal doesn’t have an expiration date. ”We’d be silly not to keep developing other things to do with him,” says Graden, ”because [all of his VH1 shows] have done well.” In contrast, some of the channel’s other prime-time offerings — The Surreal Life Fame Games, Hogan Knows Best, and Shooting Sizemore — garner between 700,000 and 1.5 million viewers, and Graden credits I Love New York with helping goose their premiere-week numbers. ”New York rivals Flav in terms of being singularly fascinating,” he says. ”[Her] show is edited for comedy. It’s done by the team that does Surreal Life. If you are a TV connoisseur, it’s really well-done from that point of view.”

As for the rapper who started it all? Graden says there are no current plans for Flav — who does not have behind-the-scenes credits on New York or Charm School — to star in another show, but he’s clearly receptive to new ideas, calling Flav ”a member of the family.” Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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