David Wertheimer

Chairman and CEO

Wirebreak.com

Venice

Following a general presentation earlier this month at a technology conference sponsored by the trade magazine Red Herring, 31-year-old David Wertheimer was inundated with job inquiries from the capacity crowd on hand.

And his company isn't even fully rolling.

But come September, Wirebreak.com plans to launch four original shows all digitally produced, short-format shows that blend animation and video with interactivity. The cutting-edge network is among the few to use in-house producers, editors and camera operators, as well as freelance crew and talent, to produce its own shows.

They are: "News Blast," a daily, customizable news program; "It's Saul Good: In the Neighborhood," an interactive video-comedy starring Venice street performer Saul Good; "Girls' Locker Talk," a girls' gab-fest that responds to e-mail questions; and "Wirebreak Shorts," a venue for film students and others to showcase short films.

Wirebreak.com will initially create all its programming with a staff of 35, according to Wertheimer, but eventually will look to add outside productions to the network.

"We never wanted to repackage old television shows for this new medium," said Wertheimer. "By creating new content, we will help it break through."

Wertheimer has been in the technology industry since 1983, when he founded and ran the Chalk Board, an online service in Dallas, at the age of 15. Four years later, he graduated from Duke University with a computer science and business degree.

After climbing the corporate Internet ladder at NeXT Computer and Oracle Corp., Wertheimer was hired in 1994 by Paramount Pictures to build its interactive media division, Paramount Digital Entertainment.

"When we began PDE, it was a world dominated by AOL, Prodigy and an upstart company called Microsoft," said former boss Richard Lindheim, executive vice president for Paramount Television Group. "David told us it was going to become an Internet world it was going to be about the Web and he was right."

But to truly mine the frontier of digital entertainment, Wertheimer decided he would have to launch his own cyber network. "I just felt the time was right for an entertainment breakthrough," Wertheimer said, "and I didn't see it coming from the big established organizations."

Jeannette DeSantis

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