While certain aspects of reality programming simply can't translate to scripted programs, a new service from My2Centences will give scripted programs the ability to create the same sense of personal involvement that drove programs like American Idol to the top of the ratings.
My2Centences is the brainchild of Chris Williams and Craig Singer. Williams spent five years as director of market development at Yahoo! before he decided to take a new angle on new media. My2Centences gives program creators the ability to get viewers involved in the program-writing process through submission of either scenes or complete scripts.
"We're really creating a new way of telling stories, and we think the applications for TV shows are pretty great," says Williams. "This is like a talent show for scripted material that still allows the audience to participate."
It may sound like HBO's Project Greenlight, which allows would-be directors and screenwriters to get their work produced, but Williams says there are key differences: "This is about the average television viewer, not the person committed to writing an entire screenplay."
He is currently in discussions with five broadcast and cable networks to incorporate My2Centences into existing properties and hopes to have a deal within 60 days.
The system involves a lot of moderation on the part of the program's producers and My2Centences, ensuring that submitted scripts stay on point. For example, producers may provide a rough outline setting the stage for a scene, and the fans submit scripts to flesh out the details. Proprietary software automatically formats the submitted text so that it looks like a traditional script. Visitors to the site read the submitted scripts and vote for the one they like best. The winning script is then incorporated into the episode.
The idea sounds like it could be one of those dotcom disasters, but Williams is confident it will succeed. For one thing, he says, American Idol
was a hit not because Kelly Clarkson was a good singer but because people felt invested in the process. He thinks the same thing could happen with scripted material.
"I'm a big believer that, if you let them feel invested, whether voting or submitting scripts, they'll ultimately be consumers. American Idol
kind of proved that out: It wasn't because she had a breakthrough sound but because people felt invested."