In Depth

Twentieth, Yahoo! Plan Joint Show

An online powerhouse is getting ready to take on TV.

Twentieth Television has entered a deal with Internet mega-site Yahoo! to develop a series featuring popular Web videos for syndication that could air next year.

According to sources close to the situation, the potential series, which is in active development by the distributor, would be a fast-paced program featuring the hottest videos from around the Web. Should the project move out of the development stage, it would be offered as a Monday-through-Friday show to stations and launch next fall.

Executives at News Corp.’s Twentieth have been keen in recent years to seek out pre-branded series that will help attract increasingly fickle audiences to their shows. The series now joins a number of other shows in development by the company being pegged for the fall 2008 season, including Monday-through-Friday strips with comedian Steve Harvey and another with Donald Trump, both of whom are already household names.

Calls to Twentieth were not immediately returned.

For online news sites, the jump to TV series is not unprecedented in the syndication industry. This season, Warner Bros. launched “TMZ” as an extension of the popular online brand.

While the Yahoo series is not expected to be celebrity gossip-oriented like “TMZ,” the partnership with Yahoo gives the show an automatic promotional platform that will get in front of more than 130 million unique users per month, according to reports.

The Yahoo project marks the second known viral video project currently being developed for syndication. Last month, CBS Television Distribution triggered the first part of a deal with Ashton Kutcher’s production company Katalyst for “Tube,” a comedy-meets-reality half-hour strip. The series, to be hosted by comedian Orny Adams, will feature viral videos from around the country mixed with comedy bits and sketches.

As a half-hour comedy, that series most likely would be targeting time slots occupied by stalled sitcoms in late fringe time periods from 10 p.m. to midnight, according to sources.

Katalyst, the company behind series including “Beauty and the Geek” and “Punk’d,” completed a deal with CBS earlier in the year that gives the distributor a first look at projects in development.

Mr. Adams is a comedy writer and standup comic from Boston who has appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Late Night With David Letterman.” He was the subject of the 2002 documentary feature “Comedian” with Jerry Seinfeld.

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Comments 23

CA

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