Fast Track3/23/2007 08:00:00 PM Eastern
The CW Gets Into the Web Game
Network plans series with user-generated content
By Jim Benson
YouTube may soon get a taste of its own medicine if The CW greenlights a reality pilot that would put the Web's best user-generated content on weekly TV.
Ghen Maynard, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group's alternative programming guru, whose company co-owns the young-adult network with Time Warner, has been spearheading the project under the working title of Viewsers.
The show, from Room 403 Prods., a traditional and new-media company headed by David Hurwitz (Fear Factor) and Paul Cockerill (Trigger Happy TV, Jimmy Kimmel Live), would air the best videos from countless Websites, blogs and user-generated materials. According to the logline, the viral videos capturing the most online attention make the cut.
Cable has already made a stab at user-generated content with mixed results. VH1 is enjoying success with Web Junk 20, while Bravo nixed Outrageous and Contagious Viral Video. Also on cable: Nickelodeon's two-hour MY:TV block and VH1's acceptable.tv (with comments from users integrated), which is hosted by Jack Black and debuted Friday night.
Viewsers seeks to differentiate itself by offering an interactive element that would allow viewers to see what others are saying and communicate with them live on-air.
Additionally, The CW has been integrating online videos into its “content wraps,” which consist of two- to three-minute program-like commercials.
The network's new concept, allowing sponsors to incorporate their products into the plots of series, has persuaded a dozen advertisers to produce 20 such spots this season.
One of a trio of CW spots debuting over the next two months is having viewers submit videos of themselves performing the required steps to win the “Oreo Lick Race.”
Two finalists will be chosen among online voters to decide who gets to compete on-air for a $50,000 charity prize during the April 17 episodes of Gilmore Girls and Pussycat Dolls.
Meanwhile, The CW last week revealed that it is turning an entertainment magazine concept derived out of one of its content wraps into a series pilot, teaming with Extra to develop CW Now.
Exclusive: Kid, Not Play, May Get Talk Show
Christopher “Kid” Reid, half of the late-1980s, early-'90s wholesome hip-hop comedy act known as Kid 'n Play, who made three albums and later branched into acting, may be headed to syndication in 2008 with his own talk show from Warner Bros.' Telepictures Prods.
Three of their films were part of the House Party series and for the fourth, 1993's Class Act, Reid cut his trademark high-top fade in a haircut scene.
Producers of the new pilot for The Chris Reid Show, advertising an upcoming casting call last week on the Craigslist Website, are seeking “women (ages 18-30) who aspire to be just like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears.”
It's unclear why the women are needed.
Apparently unable to find any worthwhile prospects in nightclubs or rehab centers, producers are offering paid travel to Chicago, as well as lodging and compensation, for what they said is a Warner Bros.-produced talk-show pilot shooting in mid April.
The syndicator declined to comment, but the ad asks people who fit the bill or know anyone meeting the description to contact Warner Bros.
Reid, now in his early 40s, and his cohort, Christopher “Play” Martin, starred in four movies based on their characters and themes. The duo even had an NBC Saturday-morning cartoon stressing positive role models in 1990-91 that later spurred a short-lived comic book.
After their mid-1990s split, Reid, a born-again Christian, went on to pursue an acting career.—Jim Benson
Court Says No To Network DVR
Cablevision's campaign to use large servers at its headends to act as digital video recorders (DVRs) for customers suffered a serious blow Thursday when a federal court ruled that the proposed service broke copyright rules.
The idea of so-called “network DVR” functionality has been batted around for years by video-server vendors and cable operators as a way to provide time-shifting features to consumers without incurring the significant capital expense of installing DVR-capable set-tops in subscribers' homes.
Such large centralized servers, sitting at a cable headend, could act like a giant DVR to hundreds, even thousands, of customers who could each record and access programming via their cable remotes. While the network-DVR concept has technical and financial appeal, it has been slow to take off due to concerns that cable operators would be guilty of copyright infringement by directly controlling equipment on their premises that could record and time-shift programming.
In March 2006, Cablevision became the first operator to test the copyright waters by announcing it would launch a “Remote-Storage DVR System” in its suburban New York systems. The announcement was quickly followed by a lawsuit against Cablevision filed by various content providers and networks including Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Disney, CBS and NBC.
The suit claimed that such a service would constitute copyright infringement. Cablevision filed a counterclaim, asserting that such a network DVR service would be no different from a traditional video-cassette recorder or DVR in its functionality and citing the original Betamax ruling from “Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios” in 1984.
In his ruling, Judge Denny Chin of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, agreed with the programmers' position, ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, dismissing Cablevision's counterclaim with prejudice, and enjoining Cablevision from launching any type of network DVR service. He will also award legal costs to the plaintiffs.
Cablevision is weighing its options and will continue to deploy conventional DVR set-tops; it has rolled out some 500,000 to date.
“We are disappointed by the judge's decision and continue to believe that remote-storage DVRs are consistent with copyright law and offer compelling benefits for consumers—including lower costs and broader availability of this popular technology,” said the company in a statement. “We are currently reviewing the opinion and assessing all of our options, including an appeal.”—Glen Dickson
TV Land Pushes Boomer Focus
TV Land unveiled a lineup of shows on iconic television stars and pop-culture trends aimed at Baby Boomers. The network also announced it has acquired younger-skewing off-network comedies Scrubs and Just Shoot Me.
The Story Of..., a pilot in development, examines fads and trends from what the network calls the “TV Generation.” Also in the works are specials on Elvis and the 50 “Greatest TV Icons,” a two-hour show in partnership with Entertainment Weekly.
They join previously announced series like Back to the Grand, which sends TV actors to perform the real-life jobs they held on television, and Penny and Cindy, a scripted pilot in development that would reunite Laverne & Shirley's Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams.
The network, which averaged 984,000 total viewers in prime during February, has positioned itself to advertisers as the best spot to target boomers. The network originally ran mostly shows from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Scrubs and Just Shoot Me, both of which originally aired on NBC, will join TV Land in October 2008 and first quarter 2008, respectively.—Anne Becker
Muir To Anchor Two ABC Shows
ABC says David Muir will become anchor of World News Saturday and co-anchor of Primetime. He will also continue to be a New York-based correspondent for ABC News broadcasts. He joined ABC in 2003 as anchor of World News Now and World News This Morning. Prior to joining ABC, he worked for WCVB Boston, where he won an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting.—Caroline Palmer