TheWB.com moved into public beta today, and the internets responded with a collective yawn. The new site features WB television favorites like Firefly, Friends and Buffy, but it also sports a host of made-for-web video content. It seems that not much has changed since Reed criticized the interface after the initial closed beta launch, but its worth a second spin anyhow.
The site is functional and relatively user-friendly, with all the bells and whistles that have become standard among internet-entertainment destinations, and with a gimichy wblender that lets users mash-up videos. (Actually it’s pretty fun.)
I can’t help but question the strategy of building “the destination for a generation” when micro-niche is all the rage; if I were WB, I’d create branded sites for each of the on and offline series with promotion of various web-only features. Teenagers, afterall, do have varying interests – webTV represents an opportunity segment this key demo.
That said, the slate of planned original scripted series looks sticky enough to keep many a teenager hanging out for a while.
Blue Water High (premieres today, August 27): Six Australian teenagers in this drama set at an exclusive, ultra-competitive surf academy where they live, study, surf and socialize together. At the end of the grueling 12-month residential athletic and academic program, two surfers – one male and one female – will win the prize they’ve all been fighting for: admission to the professional surfing circuit and a sponsorship contract. Series stars include Adam Saunders, Chris Foy, Kate Bell, Khan Chittenden, Sophie Luck and Tahyna Tozzi.
A Boy Wearing Makeup (premieres today, August 27): Mathieu Francis is a boy … who wears makeup … and looks fabulous. In this highly personal online video diary, Mathieu dispenses makeup advice and fashion tips while taking viewers along on his own personal journey.
Whatever Hollywood (premieres today, August 27): Suri, Apple and Shiloh are three best friends who are taking Hollywood by storm and playing by their own rules. Tune in to their self-described fun and silly short films (many featuring their own original music), as well as the reality-style “Whatever Show.” As smart as they are beautiful, this talented trio hates waiting for Hollywood to answer their calls … so they decided to do it for themselves. Whatever, Hollywood! “Whatever Hollywood” stars Ellyn Ruschak as Suri, Alyssa Ruschak as Shiloh and Jenny Alden as Apple.
Sorority Forever (premieres September 8): Starring LonelyGirl 15’s Jessica Rose, Sorority Forever is a drama/mystery from Director McG and BigFantastic which peeks behind the walls of one of the most intriguing secret societies in the world: the sorority.
Downers Grove (premieres September 29): Alden, Brett, Pudge, and Jodi never grew up. When everyone their age went away to college, they stayed in the suburbs, always on the prowl for the next party and never far from disturbing the peace. In Downers Grove, you can never go home again. So they never left. “Downers Grove” stars David Horwitz, Michael Blaiklock, Justin Becker, Elisha Yaffe, Anne Gregory, Heidi Heaslet, Ashton Grant and Kasia Szarek.
High Drama: Against All Oz (premieres October 6): Created by James Percelay (“Snaps,” “Saturday Night Live”), this unscripted series documents the production of a big-budget high school musical version of “The Wizard of Oz” at Barnstable High School in Hyannis, Mass., bringing viewers all the real and imagined behind-the-scenes drama on and off the stage. The series is from Bombo Sports & Entertainment in association with Studio 2.0. The executive producers are Percelay, Bombo’s Paul Doyle, Jr. and Studio 2.0’s Rich Rosenthal.
Untitled Josh Schwartz Music Project: Created by Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.,” “Chuck,” “Gossip Girl”) and executive produced with Alexandra Patsavas (music supervisor for “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Mad Men”), this new, web-exclusive series is set in the music world, taking viewers to the front of the line and behind the soundboard of a fictional Hollywood rock club and chronicling the lives and loves of the club’s employees, patrons and musicians. The series, from Schwartz’s College Hill Pictures, will also feature on-camera performances by bands both established and unknown. Written in part by some of the music industry’s most original voices – rock critics and musicians alike – and married to a dynamic music networking website, this series will be the place to discover a new generation of stars and the next great bands.
Rich Girl, Poor Girl: From Gary Auerbach, the executive producer and creator of “Laguna Beach” and “Newport Harbor,” this reality series takes a wealthy Orange County, Calif., girl and swaps her life with that of a low-income teen from Los Angeles. It’s a comedic experiment in what makes us different – while also pointing out what we have in common.
Exposed: Through his Wonderland Sound and Vision banner, McG executive produces a thriller about a college student, haunted by a hidden past, trying desperately to remain undercover when former associates hunt him down and threaten to expose the truth about who he really is. Blake Calhoun and Mike Maden (creators of the hit Internet series “Pink”) are co-executive producers for Alternative Fuel, LLC. Calhoun directs from a story and screenplay by Maden.
Chadam: Cutting-edge artist Alex Pardee and producer Jason Hall of HDFILMS Inc. are teaming up on a 3D animation project based upon Pardee’s character of the same name. Initially introduced as a character icon for the popular rock band The Used, Chadam has become an Internet phenomenon. An action-horror-adventure story filled with self-discovery, “Chadam” will come to full 3D animated life via the magic of Unreal Engine 3, the leading technology and development framework that powers cutting-edge games such as “Gears of War” and “BioShock” on today’s popular platforms, including PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Joni & Susanna: This series follows two best friends/frenemies in their 20s who redefine codependent and love to hate each other. They do everything together, know everything about each other and talk exclusively about everyone around them. Each episode tracks the couple in a different setting as they call out each other’s insecurities and try and maintain the upper hand at all times. “Joni & Susanna” stars Joni Lefkowitz and Susanna Fogel.