I never watched Smallville because Tom Welling couldn’t possibly fill the Metropolis-sized Superman void left by Dean Cain after Lois & Clark was cancelled in 1997. But after a decade of healing, it might be time to get my cheesy, classic-comic-book-turned-wholesome-family-programming fix when TheWB.com launches this May.
After their television network morphed into the CW in 2006, the Warner Bros. Television Group is bringing Warner Bros. Television to the web. Old (newer CW shows like Gossip Girl aren’t slated to be available on the site, which, I agree, is weird) popular “female-centric programming” (Gilmore Girls, Everwood, What I Like About You, and I suppose Smallville) will be available on-demand on the new, defunct network’s broadband site, and syndicated to several video-watching destinations, including Hulu.
So why create your own site when you already have a deal with Hulu, who can do a lot of the heavy lifting? If Hulu is going to be the YouTube of professionally produced content, it’s important to have a strong presence there, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only place shows should live. To maintain brand identity, keep some level of control, and give fans a more robust space to interact with their favorite programs, it’s important to create branded destinations around like content.
Plus, Warner Bros. will use the TheWB.com and it’s effeminate brand associations to popularize a handful of upcoming, girl-targeted web series.
On the talent side, WBTVG has lined up director/producer McG (Terminator 4, the “Charlie’s Angels” movies) and writer/producer Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl) and Big Fantastic (producers of the internet series Prom Queen.
TheWB.com currently has seven short-form shows being developed for site, including Sorority Forever, which execs are describing as ”Prom Queen meets The O.C.; Exposed, billed as a thriller concerning a college student with a hidden past; Chadam, a 3D animation project based on the surreal character that appears in videos by the alt-rock band The Used; Rich Girl/Poor Girl, a class-based comedy set in Los Angeles about two teen girls who switch places; Lockdown, a show about a model being kept prisoner in her own home; a reality series about a high school musical production called High Drama: Against All Oz; and an untitled series about a fictional Hollywood rock club.
If Celebutantes is any indicator, McG’s online series is going to be ridiculously good. Add online veterans Big Fantastic and Gen Y, teenybopper king Josh Schwartz to the mix and (aside from the Coen Brothers alleged 60Frames series) that’s the most talented directorial line-up I’ve seen in the world of web video. Color me giddy and call me a schoolgirl, but I’m excited to watch.