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''Joe's Apartment'' becomes a movie

”Joe’s Apartment” becomes a movie — MTV plans to put those talking cockroaches onto the big screen

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From the pass-the-Black Flag department: Those squeaky-voiced roaches on MTV’s Joe’s Apartment are about to become big-time movie stars. The music network says it’s producing its first feature film, based on the bugged-out animation-plus-live-action short about a guy sharing his shabby New York City digs with a gross-but-lovable horde of talking roaches.

The 31/2-minute Joe’s vid has been in heavy rotation on MTV on and off since its premiere last year: To catch the critters before they go Hollywood, tune in on July 27 at 9 p.m. ”The video is a misty, sentimental love story,” offers Joe’s creator John Payson, who will write and direct the movie. ”It is a classic romance. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy’s roaches. Roaches lose girl for boy. But that’s just the beginning. The movie version can go in all sorts of directions.” Among the plot twists under consideration for Payson’s screenplay-in-progress: Joe’s roaches take on the neighbor’s cat, Joe’s mom comes for a visit, and an overview of roaches through history. ”Roaches witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Independence and they hid in Napoleon’s hat,” says Payson, former director of MTV’s ”on-air promos” department, which produces the network’s snarky between-video promotions. ”They’ve seen it all.”

The chatty cucarachas will crawl into theaters next year.

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