Attention South Park fans: The identity of Cartman's father will be revealed April 22.

And this time, Comedy Central says, "We promise."


For more than a month, the cable network told viewers of its top-rated, cult-hit 'toon that the Cartman storyline would be resolved April 1.

Unfortunately, April 1 is also known as April Fools' Day. And Comedy Central used the occasion to pull a prank: Instead of all-new Cartman, it offered a half-hour of flatulence and macaroni-and-cheese jokes, courtesy South Park's 'toon-within-a-'toon, The Terrance and Phillip Show.

Some die-hards were not pleased. ("They were hyped in Rolling Stone and Newsweek, but they come up with a stupid show," one cyberfan on a South Park newsgroup wrote.) The network was flooded with 1,800 angry emails and three dozen phone calls, a spokesperson says.

Unrepentant about the prank, but trying to build a bridge back to the burned, Comedy Central now says it'll air the near-mythic Cartman episode a month earlier than planned.

The cliffhanger resolution--a sort of "Who Shot J.R.?" for the potty-mouthed set--was supposed to kick off South Park's second season on May 20.

That'll still serve as the date for the new season--Fans will just get the Cartman episode, titled, "Cartman's Mom Still a Dirty Slut," sooner. (The series lapses into reruns again after the April 22 airdate.)

"We do want to do right by our viewers," spokeswoman Sharon Levy says.

The story of four snow-bound scamps--Kyle, Stan, Kenny (of "Oh my god, they killed Kenny!" fame) and the husky-sized, Cheesy Poofs-lovin' Cartman--South Park debuted last August to record-setting cable ratings.

The show's first season ended February 25, with an episode detailing Cartman's search for his father. Among the suspects: Soul-singin' Chef, Officer Barbrady, Stan's Uncle Jimbo and Uncle Jimbo's war vet buddy, Ned.

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