Microsoft is making serious plays in online video on all of the technology behemoth’s entertainment fronts.

MSN picked up season 2 of Felicia Day’s hit gamer-centric web series, The Guild. XBox is home to James Gunn and his fellow nouveau sultans of slasher flicks’ series Horror Meets Comedy. And today Microsoft announced it will create original series specifically for the Zune.

In a partnership with Mean Magazine – a publication that’s responsible for making Sir Ben Kingsley look kinda foolish and Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogan pretty hot – Microsoft’s first foray into original content for its iphone competitor will be Cinemash, an eight-episode, three to five-minute comedy series, featuring “celebs playing the roles in movies they wish they’d landed.”

As long as Microsoft gives Mean a long enough production leash, sight unseen, this series is going to be great. It’s a fun premise and a question that I imagine any celebrity would enjoy exploring on camera. Variety reports the series will debut in May with a slate of original content to follow, raning from “live-action and animated comedy to urban and music programming.”

Considering iPod users outnumber Zune owners 173 million to 3 million, producing original content is a agreat marketing tactic that’s sure to draw Microsoft’s media player some much needed attention. The project will also point users towards the fledgling Zune Marketplace. As Marc notes, The Guild tops the those download charts, showing how an effectively marketed online series that engages an audience can bring a helluva lot of value to a new product.

Cinemash and future Zune originals will be released on the Zune Marketplace and, likely after a short exclusive window, make their way onto XBox Live and MSN.com. No word on subsequent series, but Cinesmash will be ad-supported and free for users.

but did say that along with the rest of the content being produced for the Zune, Cinemash will be ad-supported and free for users. After its initial run on the Zune platform, the series will make its way onto MSN and Xbox Live.

[Note: Microsoft Zune is a sponsor of the Streamy Awards, web television’s premier awards show. The live event will happen this March in Hollywood.]

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