The Emmy-winning creators of television show "My So-Called Life" late on Wednesday became the latest Hollywood players to launch an Internet program, partnering with MySpaceTV to Webcast the series "quarterlife."
Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick have ranked in the top tier of TV and film producers in Hollywood since their late 1980s show "thirtysomething," about the day-to-day struggles of 30 year-olds, earned acclaim and won an Emmy for best drama.
The pair have written, produced or directed films including Tom Cruise hit "The Last Samurai" and last year's "Blood Diamond," which earned Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar nomination.
But Herskovitz told Reuters that in recent years they have lost their independence in TV to the major networks, which demand program ownership. They are taking their act to the Web where they can create, control and profit from their own programs.
"It's been coming for a while that a lot of us (show creators) have been looking for a different way to tell stories," Herskovitz said. "The Net is a great democratizer, so it seemed natural that we would try to do something."
For more than a decade, independent writers, directors and producers have launched TV-style programs on the Web to varying success. But in recent years, video Web sites like YouTube and network TV show downloads from iTunes have proven that Web viewers do exist and advertisers are eager to reach them.
Last summer, Web program "LonelyGirl15" became a pop culture sensation, and this past spring a company backed by former Disney chairman Michael Eisner launched "Prom Queen."
MySpaceTV general manager Jeff Berman said "Prom Queen," about day-to-day life of high-schoolers, is approaching 10 million views on MySpaceTV.
"We've reached a landmark moment when Emmy winners are creating shows for us," Berman said.
"Quarterlife" launches on November 11 and encompasses 36 eight-minute episodes about six young adults in a big city who all long for careers as artists. The key character is a woman named Dylan who posts her own video blog on the Web.
Herskovitz said that after the ABC TV network passed on the show, he and Zwick decided to produce it themselves and take it to the Web. MySpaceTV, which is owned by Fox TV parent News Corp, agreed to Webcast the show on its site.
The show is funded and owned by its creators, and they split advertising revenue with MySpaceTV. Herskovitz declined to give financial details or the show's cost, but he promised the production would be as good or better than network TV.
"We are doing this as if we are doing it on TV," he said.
Herskovitz added that the show will have a companion website, quarterlife.com, where fans can network with other fans and offer ideas for how the program's plot develops.
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