SCI-FI gets cool -- The cable channel enlists the help of Busta Rhymes, Everclear, Richard Branson and more in an effort to transform the network's geeky image

By Clarissa Cruz
Updated April 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

While it’s not exactly a mutation of Jekyll-and-Hyde proportions, mad scientists at the SCI FI Channel have cooked up a series of promo spots intended to transform the network’s geeky, retro image into something hipper. Set to premiere at the end of April, the ads feature famous sci-fi fans, like rapper Busta Rhymes, in surreal shorts that end with the stars proclaiming ”I am sci-fi!” (Other spokespeople on deck include rockers Everclear, wrestling goddess Sable, and Virgin bigwig Richard Branson.) For Rhymes’ 10-second commercial, the hyperactive hip-hopper’s trademark braids were jacked into floating turntables that downloaded musical ”space beats” to his mouth. ”The idea is to put them into some kind of trippy sci-fi environment that relates to their character,” says on-air promotions director Rick Austin. ”That’s what makes them cool — they’ve embraced their inner geek and done something new with it.”