TV got you down? Welcome to the Web

by Mathew on September 13, 2007 · 2 comments

Techmeme has the news about Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz creating a show for MySpace and the Web — here’s a story I wrote for the Globe about it yesterday, after talking to MySpaceTV general manager Jeff Berman.

Facebook may be getting all the headlines lately, but MySpace still has a few cards up its sleeve — including the connections it has to some of the top names in traditional media, thanks to its parent company, media and entertainment giant News Corp.

The social-networking site announced today that it has signed an exclusive deal with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the Hollywood duo that produced such hit TV shows as Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, for the rights to a new Internet drama the pair are working on, called Quarterlife.

Episodes — or webisodes — of the show, which follows a group of twentysomethings through the eyes of one young girl with a video-blog, will appear first on MySpaceTV, and then on the website.

Jeff Berman, the general manager of MySpaceTV, said in an interview that the show was a “landmark moment” for MySpace, and that it would be “the highest-quality serialized content ever to appear on the Internet. We’re talking about the same production values as 24 or Prison Break.”

There have been a number of episodic TV-style shows created for the Internet, including the popular Lonelygirl15 show, which was developed by a trio of unknowns and also appears on MySpaceTV. More recently, former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s company created a show called Prom Queen, which aired on MySpaceTV and drew a large following.

Entertainment websites have been speculating for several months about a possible Internet offering from Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz, after a number of reports leaked out about TV writers and production staff working on something called Quarterlife. The Hollywood duo had a traditional TV show of the same name that ran briefly in 2005.

“We’ve been talking to [Zwick and Herskovitz] for the past several weeks, and we’re delighted to be able to announce this,” Mr. Berman said. The first “webisode” will be posted on MySpaceTV on November 11, he said.

Under the terms of the deal, the social-networking site has a 24-hour window during which the webisode will only be available on MySpaceTV. After that, it will appear on Both sites will have interactive features, Mr. Berman said, but on MySpace viewers will be able to interact with the cast through their MySpace pages.

MySpace users and bloggers on other sites will also be able to “embed” the webisodes in their pages by pasting in a small chunk of code, as they can with video clips on other sites such as YouTube, and DailyMotion.

When asked whether the new show would have a mobile component involving cellphones, Mr. Berman said “stay tuned.” He also said that MySpaceTV was working on several other projects with content creators in the entertainment community.

According to Mr. Berman, more than 50 million users stream video each month from their MySpace webpages, and the social-networking site as a whole produces 500 million individual video streams every month.

Further reading: PaidContent notes that Zwick and Herskovitz will own and control the show, something that is unusual for a Web show, and the New York Times spoke with Zwick in Lithuania. The BBC, meanwhile, says that frustration at having their show cancelled is what drove the duo to the Internet.

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