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Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Sony Hopes Little Laughs Lead to Big Payday Online

Episodic online entertainment or Webisodes are becoming more common at Hollywood’s major studios, even though none of these pioneering endeavors has yet to generate any significant revenue.

Sony Pictures Television has launched six series on its comedy Web site, C-Spot. The series installments run between three minutes and six minutes each, just long enough to provide a basic story arc and a few minor subplots.

The idea is to see if such fare will catch on with younger viewers, said Sean Carey, Sony Pictures Television senior executive vice president.

Some local independent producers are using Sony as a platform to garner a full-fledged broadcast network sitcom.

Known more for creating television promotional spots for major studios such as Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox, Los Angeles-based Stun Creative has written and produced a series for C-Spot called “The Writers Room.” The 10-part series about a group of writers working for a fictional late night talk show host debuted this month.

What makes “The Writers Room” unusual is that writers from hit television shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Gilmore Girls” star in the online series.

“While the general public may not know who these people are, we believe that the show is funny enough on its own to make it work outside the entertainment industry,” said Mark Feldstein, co-founder of Stun Media.

Unlike NBC’s “30 Rock” or HBO’s “Larry Sanders Show,” “The Writers Room” never presents the actual show to the viewers. “We chose instead to focus on the writers’ room, since some of the funniest stuff never leaves the room,” Feldstein said. “Not to mention the fact that we simply didn’t have enough budget to build an actual talk show set.”

Neither Feldstein nor Sony would disclose the budget of the series, but neither Stun nor Sony expect to make a profit on the show.

“We’ve always had a comedic bent and we view this next step with Sony as a natural evolution for us,” Stun co-founder Brad Roth said.

Before producing “The Writers Room,” Stun had previously written and directed two short comedic films for the Showtime Network and executive produced a comedy short starring Jack Black promoting TBS.

The duo is hoping to land another 10-episode deal with Sony in the coming weeks.

Advocate Outed

In a move to place all of its resources behind its online endeavor Gay.com, PlanetOut Inc. sold “Out” and the “Advocate” magazines last week for an estimated $6 million to Here Networks in Westwood, according to company and press reports. The deal also provides PlanetOut with access to Here Films.

The Advocate and Out magazines serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Los Angeles among other cities.

Company officials didn’t say whether the newspaper or magazine would continue to be published in hard copy after the sale, expected to close in August, but they did say that the brands would continue online.

PlanetOut Chief Executive Karen Magee said that the company expects to focus on its Web sites, Gay.com and PlanetOut.com.

Shares of San Francisco-based PlanetOut rose 15.4 percent, to $2.62 last week when the company made the announcement.

The Advocate was first published by Dick Michaels and Bill Rand as a local newsletter called Los Angeles Advocate. In 1969 it was renamed The Advocate and distributed nationally. David Goodstein, an investment banker from San Francisco, bought the publication in 1974 and after several mergers and acquisitions the Advocate became an asset of PlanetOut Inc.

Clancy Rights

When it comes to video games there’s a lot in a name. And if your name is Tom Clancy, it can bring north of $50 million.

The Clancy video game franchises, including “Rainbow Six,” “Ghost Recon” and “Splinter Cell,” are said to be responsible for a big chunk of Paris-based Ubisoft’s annual profits. Last month, the company decided to forgo paying royalties to the novelist, choosing instead to pay an undisclosed sum for perpetual rights to use his name on video games and ancillary products including related books, movies and merchandising.

Los Angeles-based Greenberg Glusker attorneys Stephen Smith and Candace Carlo represented Ubisoft Entertainment in a mega deal for the rights to use Clancy’s name and likeness in connection with interactive games, related books and motion pictures.

In making that announcement last week, Ubisoft Chief Executive Yves Guillemot said one of the company’s priorities would be to introduce multiplayer online games bearing the best-selling author’s name.

Global Shift

Citing poor market and economic conditions, Los Angeles-based Global Entertainment Holdings Inc. recently backed out of a deal to acquire independent film production company HandsFree Entertainment and sold off LitFunding USA, one of Global’s subsidiaries.

Global and HandsFree had agreed to an exchange of stock to consummate the acquisition last December but Global’s chief executive said that the company will focus on internal growth.

Global Entertainment Holdings, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Global Universal Film Group, is expected to develop and finance a slate of motion pictures with a combination of tax incentives, co-production treaties and pre-sales of selected foreign territories and direct investment, according to a company statement.

Global Universal’s films are expected to be produced as feature-length films with recognizable star names for worldwide release. Through another subsidiary, “You’ve Got The Part Inc.,” Global will continue to develop reality-based programming for television and home video.

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at


or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226


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