The Nickelodeon cable-TV channel confirmed Friday that it has fired John Kricfalusi as producer and director of his cult cartoon creation, "The Ren & Stimpy Show," and replaced him with his former partner, Bob Camp.
Nickelodeon, a unit of Viacom International Inc., will form an animation studio in Los Angeles to continue producing the series.
Although Kricfalusi--a self-styled rebel in the animation community--had repeated run-ins with network executives over the raunchy content of his popular series, the dismissal apparently came over his failure to meet delivery deadlines.
"The main problem has been with production," said a Nickelodeon executive who asked not to be named. "We aren't getting new episodes. So it isn't even a content problem. We are a network. We have a big audience for this show. And we need to get episodes on the air."
Nickelodeon had already scaled back its order for the second season of "Ren & Stimpy" from 26 to 13 episodes to accommodate Kricfalusi's meticulous production techniques.
But only 2 1/2 episodes containing fresh material have aired since the new season began Aug. 15. Two other episodes have been completed but were shelved, reportedly because Nickelodeon executives found them offensive.
Kricfalusi did not return phone calls, but he has argued in the past that his brand of animation, in which characters assume a full range of human emotions, takes time. He will retain an undisclosed financial interest in the series, Nickelodeon said.
Kricfalusi sold the rights to his characters--an irascible Chihuahua and a bloated cat--to Nickelodeon in order to get his independent production company, Spumco, off the ground. The characters sparked a national craze after "Ren & Stimpy" premiered last year with six episodes, and Nickelodeon cashed in with numerous product licenses.
Employees have been offered an opportunity to stay with the show under the leadership of Camp, who has directed several episodes of "Ren & Stimpy" and will oversee all creative elements in its production, but many have professed loyalty to Kricfalusi.