Warner Bros has now released programming details of TheWB.com that debuts online to the public August 27th as an ad-supported, video-on-demand, interactive and personalized reworked version of the gone but not forgotten network. Sure, there will be some oldie but goodies (like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Veronica Mars, Roswell, One Tree Hill, Smallville), and old Warner Bros-produced shows (like Friends and The OC), or newly acquired axed series (like Angel, Babylon 5, Firefly, In Living Color, The Loop, MADtv) and foreign programming (like an Aussie series about a surfing academy).
But the most interesting aspect of TheWB.com to me, the Hollywood guilds and to Big Media in general has to be Warner Bros’ ambitious programming of original series. Tapped are McG, Josh Schwartz, and other TV creators. “A lot of these established guys want to play around in this space where there’s no constraints for time and all sorts of great stuff they can do,” a Warner Bros insider tells me today. “Some of this will incubate online and possible transition into series stuff. And some of this is literally meant to be short form entertainment.”
Until recently, no network really wanted to spend money on scripted content for online. But when Warner Bros announced its digital production arm Studio 2.0 with 25 series, the Warner Bros Television Group prez Bruce Rosenblum made clear that all of that development would cost less than $3 million, equivalent to one episode of Pushing Daisies or any other big budget drama.
But there’s also original programming from creators found on YouTube, or participants in the Creative Lab which Warner Bros put on two summers in the row for young people, or through Studio 2.0, to create, write, produce and even star in their own stuff. Needless to say, these people aren’t Hollywood guild members.
The success or failure of these made-for-online shows could change the way that the networks conduct TV development. We all know these are really back-door pilots, so the next TV hits could depend on online hits. As TheWb.com’s sales pitch says, “The next great network will not be televised.” Or perhaps unionized, the way things are going… (Which is why StrikeTV, born during the writers strike, is using guild members to create their online scripted programming and will announce its official launch in a few weeks.)
Here’s a sampling of the original content:
Sorority Forever (premieres September 8): Mystery/drama about college sororities. McG will executive produce, along with Big Fantastic creators/executive producers Douglas Cheney, Chris Hampel, Chris McCaleb and Ryan Wise of the Interet series Prom Queen.
Whatever Hollywood (premieres August 27): Ellyn Ruschak, Alyssa Ruschak, and Jenny Alden play three wannabe Hollywood stars who make fun and silly short films often featuring their own original music.
Untitled Josh Schwartz Music Project: Created by Josh Schwartz and executive produced with music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, this web-exclusive series is set in a fictional Hollywood rock club. The series, from Schwartz’s College Hill Pictures, is written in part by rock critics and musicians alike.
Rich Girl, Poor Girl: Comedic reality show from reality TV exec producer Gary Auerbach about a wealthy Orange County, Calif., girl who swaps her life with a low-income teen from Los Angeles.
Exposed: Through his Wonderland Sound and Vision banner, McG executive produces a thriller about a college student trying to hide his past. Blake Calhoun and Mike Maden (creators of the Internet series Pink) are co-executive producers for Alternative Fuel, LLC. Calhoun directs from a story and screenplay by Maden.
High Drama: Against All Oz: Unscripted series about a high school musical . Created by James Percelay who serves as exec producers along with Paul Doyle and Rich Rosenthal.
Chadam: Artist Alex Pardee and producer Jason Hall of HDFILMS Inc team up on a 3D animation project based upon Pardee’s character Chadam which already lives on the Internet. The 3D animation is being done by Unreal Engine 3, the leading technology and development framework that powers games like Gears of War and BioShock.
Downers Grove: Birthed during Warner Bros’ summer Creative Lab, a bunch of the interns created, wrote, produced and star in this scripted series about a bunch of suburban rowdies.
Joni & Susanna: This series was birthed by Warner’s Studio 2.0 and follows the lives of two frenemies Created and starring two unknowns, Joni Lefkowitz and Susanna Fogel and produced by them and Erica Kraus.