Gene Simmons to Produce Sitcom

You say demonic bassist Gene Simmons doesn't scare you any more? What if we told you he was making a creative foray into '80s-style R&B-hip-hop?

Don't panic KISS hasn't signed up to cover "U Can't Touch This" for a film soundtrack. Simmons has been tapped by VH1 to executive-produce a pilot episode for a half-hour sitcom about the misadventures of an R&B artist whose career has seen better days. Much better days.

According to an item in today's Variety, the new show, titled Smash, centers around the exploits of an African-American performer in his late '20s who has never been able to rekindle the momentum he enjoyed in his brief heyday of teenage fame as Phat Boy. Having abandoned singing, our hero has now embarked on a floundering career as a record label impresario.

This is the first TV project for the KISS co-founder's Gene Simmons Co. Last year, the rocker-cum-producer got his first Hollywood credit on the KISS-related feature Detroit Rock City. His next film project is The Neil Bogart Story, a rise-and-fall epic about Bogart, the founder of disco empire Casablanca Records and FilmWorks, which first signed KISS in the mid-'70s.

Simmons is also reportedly nurturing a host of other TV and silver-screen projects. "The Gene Simmons Co. really came to life as an extension of my will to do anything and everything," he tells Variety.

Meanwhile, KISS fans hungry for more traditional Simmons fare can check out an exclusive "pre-game" show on the new cable channel VH1 Classic from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, leading into the group's pay-per-view concert Last Kiss. Simmons and co-host Paul Stanley will run down two hours of clips programmed by the heavy metal titans, including promos by The Who, Cheap Trick, and, um, 'N Sync. Now that's scary.

"What you see is what you get: two grown men wearing makeup, platform heels, and codpieces, talking about their favorite videos," said Simmons in a statement. In other words, standard public-access fare.