Dennis Rodman's 'Geek and Freak' To Pique HD Net

In a bid to increase the appeal of the original programming--not to mention the channel itself--Mark Cuban's HDNet will launch its makeover show in January with former NBA star Dennis Rodman.

Called "Geek to Freak," Rodman tries to convert ordinary people into edgy mavericks like himself. Cuban, the HDNet CEO, described it as sort of a "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" with Rodman as the life-changer. It features people diametrically opposed to Rodman who want to live his life, says Cuban, speaking Thursday at an Advertising Week event in New York.

Four episodes of "Geek to Freak" are in the can. In a clip available on YouTube, Rodman attempts to turn a spectacle-wearing accountant into a stripper. "All you have to do is take one look at [her] and tell that's a wild woman inside her looking to bust loose," Rodman says on camera.

Rodman, who finished his career in 2000 playing for the Cuban-owned Dallas Mavericks, once shared a home with the billionaire. Basketball's former rebound king was known as much for his on-court prowess as his off-court antics, such as wearing a wedding dress in public and a short-lived marriage to Carmen Electra.

Five-year-old HDNet, which offers its programming in high-definition, reaches only 4 million homes and is looking to develop more alluring original programs. Rodman's "Geek to Freak" is one such effort; the second is a new, highbrow series "Dan Rather Reports" that launches Oct. 24.

Cuban said the ex-CBS anchor's show "goes back to the original roots of "60 Minutes," with hard-hitting investigative journalism. He declined to comment on Rather's debut topic.

The charismatic Cuban, ranked by Forbes as the 133rd-richest American, built his $2.3 billion fortune largely by selling broadcast.com to Yahoo.

Other programming strategies that Cuban is employing for HDNet include securing deals for exclusive HD broadcasts of news events, like Space Shuttle launches, plus NHL and MLS sports coverage. He's also working on a similar tack to Bravo's "Brilliant But Cancelled" broadband site, which carries critically acclaimed network shows, such as "Arrested Development," that failed to garner a large audience.

The network aims to take advantage of the growing number of HD-ready television sets in circulation. Like many programmers, Cuban argues that HD programming is a vastly different experience than traditional viewing.

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