Is the time ripe for Los Angeles-based Ripe Digital Entertainment, which its founder once described as attention-deficit disorder TV, offering young male viewers their preferred viewing diet of bikini babes and extreme sports stunts?

Advertisers and companies that rely heavily on branding converged recently in New York to examine a slate of 24 new celebrity-centric shows that Ripe developed for delivery over its on-demand cable television, mobile phone and online digital networks Ripe TV, Octane TV and Flow TV.

Ripe's original programming is designed to be viewed in four- to seven- minute episodes. The short-form entertainment format is targeted toward the prime advertising demographic of 18- to 34-year-old males. Those men are viewing Ripe's content on about 60 million computer screens, 30 million cable TV screens and 10 million mobile phones.

Ripe's event drew an estimated 500 media buyers, advertisers and content producers and as a result the company is in negotiations for about a half dozen projects, said Ryan Magnussen, Ripe's founder and chief executive.

"Nothing has been signed yet," he said. "But I expect that we'll have several deals where we'll co-produce ads with agencies, distribute agency-produced ad content and then do some straight media buyer deals for content across all of our platforms."

Using what Ripe calls "connective advertising," sponsors can place their messages in and around shows using framing and banner techniques, or products can be integrated into a program as it is being produced.

Ripe has spent the past year creating a 16,000-square-foot production studio on Melrose Avenue across from the Paramount Pictures lot. Magnussen said that the new studio will allow advertisers to produce and distribute content across all of platforms, pre-recorded or in real time. The studio is slated to open next week.

Playing Ball

The increasing role sports agents play on the L.A. scene was highlighted with the creation of another new shop that wants to help athletes make money in the show biz world.

Hugh Dodson and Steve Feldman, who both recently left the Beverly Hills offices of Gersh Agency, have founded Paragon, a Westwood-based sports and entertainment talent and management agency.

"I believe that there are so many inspirational stories to be told from an athlete's or coach's perspective that there needed to be an agency that integrates top players and coaches with writers and directors to develop positive stories across all media platforms; film, television, books and online," said Dodson, Paragon's chief executive.

William Morris and Creative Artists Agency have emphasized their sports stars in recent years as talent agencies have seen that demand for athletes to perform in movies and on TV has increased.

Paragon is coming out of the starting blocks with a roster of 28 professional NFL players who followed them from Gersh. Dodson said that he plans to build a more diverse stable of clients encompassing athletes and coaches from a wide array of professional sports to writers, directors and actors from the entertainment industry.

Feldman, who is known for his roster of pro football clients, joins Paragon and its vice president and head of the company's football division.

Gersh Agency acquired Feldman's independent sports management company and appointed him senior vice president of its sports management division two years ago. Dodson was chief operating officer at Gersh and guided the agency's foray into sports management.

Blu-ray DVD

Chatsworth-based Image Entertainment Inc. has renewed its output agreement with a Sony division to transfer film to digital formats for high-definition Blu-ray DVD releases. Sony Corp., the pioneer of Blu-ray, recently became the industry standard for high-definition DVD technology, pushing Toshiba Corp.'s HD-DVD format out of the market. Sony's Blu-ray DVD facility is located in Terre Haute, Ind.

Image, one of the first independent distributors of films and music for high definition DVD, released the romantic comedy, "Suburban Girl" and the Australian war film "Breaker Morant" on Blu-ray earlier this year. A licensing dispute between ThinkFilms and Lions Gate is not expected to delay Image's April 15 Blu-ray release, Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

Despite the faltering music DVD retail market, Image is also planning to release Blu-ray DVD versions of several music titles this summer, including "Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at the Greek," "Roy Orbison: Black and White Night" and "Barry Manilow: Live."

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at bsporich@labusinessjournal.com , or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226

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