NEW YORK -- Inside the giant factory of cool known as MTV headquarters, a crew of hip 20-somethings has been hard at work creating a two-headed monster.
This beast wants to be man's new best friend. On Sunday, during halftime of the Super Bowl, MTV2 is relaunching with a new focus on 12- to 24-year-old guys -- and a new logo.
This silhouette of a dog with two heads (you may have seen the intentionally vague posters) is at the center of the new MTV2. The revamped network will maintain most of its current music programming, bonded with swirling graphics and constant injections of randomness.
For this purpose, a B-movie horror film archive has been raided. Film has been shot of pigeons with bling, gossiping. In one promo, a girl twisting her hair says, "Let's kiss. Oh, wait. I forgot. You're ugly."
This is not your father's MTV . . . or maybe it is.
"What MTV2 is, while a departure from MTV, is really hearkening back to the early days of MTV," says Tina Exarhos, executive vice president of marketing.
Since its beginning in 1981, when it famously began broadcasting with the video of the single "Video Killed the Radio Star," MTV has morphed from heavy video rotation and shows like "Headbanger's Ball" to a steady diet of shows like "The Real World" and "Newlyweds." Today, it's no secret that there is much less "music" to its TV.
MTV2 was created in 1996 to fill that video void. Now reaching an estimated 50 million homes (mostly by digital cable and satellite), MTV2 hopes its newest incarnation will create a unique identity.
"We used to be simply a music complement to MTV. Now we're a real business," said David Cohn, general manager of MTV2. "We had to change and evolve."
While MTV2 does have new programs like "Video Mods," a show in which video game characters replace artists in their music videos, it's clear MTV2 is aiming for a new kind of television experience.
The network recognizes that its young-guy demographics are, as Cohn says, "operating on multiple platforms" -- not just television, but the Web and video games -- sometimes simultaneously.
For example, after the show "Discover & Download" premiered with the Senegal-born R&B singer Akon, thousands of downloads immediately followed.
But do Internet downloads translate into TV ratings?
"Success on album sales and downloads creates buzz in the artist community," says Cohn. "We want to build credible programs. We're establishing relationships with artists for the long haul."
The channel is renewing a tradition of unveiling a new video every Tuesday and running it at least 16 times that day. The first premiere will be Green Day's next single.
"We want Green Day to be a kind of house band for MTV2, the way people feel about MTV being the Eminem Network," says Tom Calderon, executive vice president of talent and music.
That means an MTV institution -- the VJ -- may soon go missing from MTV2. Its current resident VJs are Jim Shearer and Amanda Diva, but their roles are being reexamined.
So . . . will it work?
Sarah Lewitinn, an associate editor at Spin magazine, hopes the answer is yes. "Shows like 'The O.C.' have proved that kids are into indie rock music, if you want to call it that," she said. "Kids are more into career-type artists and very interested in music not in the mainstream."
MTV2 will first rear its two ugly heads during Sunday's Super Bowl halftime, when both MTV and MTV2 will air a preview. The made-over channel will then launch at midnight.
WCVB ranks first for 11 p.m. news
The local television news late-night ratings race is heating up.
For January, WCVB-TV (Channel 5) edged out WHDH-TV (Channel 7) for the top-rated newscast at 11 p.m. It was the first time WCVB rated first in that time slot since 1999.
The margin of Channel 5's win was narrow. The station had a 7.9 rating compared to WHDH's 7.8 rating. (In Boston, one rating point equals 23,920 households.)
WCVB, an ABC affiliate, credited the network's improved primetime lineup as well as anchors Liz Brunner and Ed Harding, who joined the newscast in November. "We're thrilled," said Elizabeth Cheng, vice president of programming for the station.
A spokeswoman for WHDH maintained that in important demographics such as 18- to 49-year-olds, Channel 7 beat WCVB in that time period.
SUZANNE C. RYAN
Globe on NECN
Here's what's happening on "Around the Globe" today on NECN:
12:30 p.m.: "Globe at Home" -- Assistant sports editor Scott Thurston and Patty Gardner, Azure sous chef and Patriots fan, preview the Super Bowl and the essential game-day menu.
4 p.m.: "Around the Globe"
6:30 p.m.: "New England Business Day"
8 p.m.: "NewsNight"
Schedule is subject to change.
2 p.m.: Globe staff writer Nick Cafardo chats about the New England Patriots at the Super Bowl.
4 p.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Borodin's Nocturne; Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours; Verdi's Triumphal March.
11 p.m. WUMB-FM (91.9) -- "Women in Music." Host: Laney Goodman.