Many thanks to Kit Moresby for the transcript
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER,
January 3, 2000
TIME WARNER POSTS 'XENA', ANIMATED KISS
by Paul Bond
Time Warner has inked a deal to put the rock band Kiss in 3-D animated shorts on the Web and, in an unusual twist of cyber-fate, bring Universal property "Xena: Warrior Princess" to Time Warner's premier entertainment internet site. The deal, which involves Universal only through a third-party arrangement,extends a relationship between Time Warner Digital Media and Brilliant Digital Entertainment, the company that has been supplying 3-D Superman "Webisodes" to Entertaindom since Time Warner launched the site in November. The original nonexclusive deal called for Brilliant Digital to supply 15 Superman shorts to Entertaindom with an option for more. Not only has Entertaindom exercised that option early, but it has asked Brilliant Digital for the Kiss and "Xena" product.
Financial details weren't revealed, but Time Warner, Universal and Brilliant Digital will share in any revenue from the product featuring its likeness. The Kiss story line centers on a kidnapping that brings the band to a planet that outlaws music. Kiss music and band-member voices are featured. Brilliant Digital obtained rights to put "Xena" on the Web in 3-D, multipath Webisodes about two years ago. The multipath feature allows the audience to interactively choose how a plot develops. "Do you want Superman to save Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen?" Warner Bros. Online president Jim Moloshok asked while describing the multipath technology. Moloshok, without offering specifics, said the Superman Webisodes have been so popular on Entertaindom "that we went to Brilliant Digital and said, 'What else can we work with?'" The fact that "Xena" is the property of a competitor didn't deter Moloshok at all. "We know how well 'Xena' works in the TV world. It's our pleasure to present her to the Interactive world," he said. "Entertaindom is a non-denominational entertainment network." In fact, Moloshok said, "We hope our relationship with 'Xena' is the first of many similar deals. Our goal is to be the definitive source for entertainment on the Web." Moloshok also said that, through the Brilliant Digital deal, Time Warner intends to reverse the formula of simply bringing popular properties from TV and movies to the Web. Moloshok said the Internet Webisodes could be repackaged for video or half-hour TV programs. Moloshok noted that Entertaindom's largest audience is logged on to the site during primetime TV viewing, at about 8 p.m. PST, whereas most Internet sites enjoy their biggest audiences during lunch time. According to a recent Cyber Dialogue survey, 73% of those going online for the first time are seeking entertainment content, making it the Number 1 reason new users log on to the Internet. "TV and video will become ancillary revenue streams," Moloshok said. "Everybody asks, 'Where's the revenue for Internet entertainment?' Our deal with Brilliant Digital answers that question." Entertaindom's grand plan of converging Internet and TVentertainment vehicles is nothing new. The concept is often hyped, but few media companies are making it a reality. South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, for example, are creating fresh content for Internet company Shockwave.com, with the intention of building popularity in cyberspace, then moving the properties to TV and film. The Time Warner-Brilliant Digital deal also calls for Entertaindom to launch a new Multipath Channel to accomodate Superman, Kiss, and Xena, as well as any future product on which the two companies collaborate. Brilliant Digital is a publicly traded, L.A.-based company that specilizes in 2-7 minute shorts for the Internet featuring 3-D graphics and multipath technology.
The deal putting "Xena" on Time Warner prime online real estate might seem unusual if applying traditional media standards, Brilliant Digital president and CEO Kevin Bermeister said. "But this is the world of the Internet. It's a wide-open field of different deals taking place. The Internet changes the rules. There's a multitude of possibilities in terms of distribution."
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