Par TV clicks on interactive wing

The Paramount Television Group has announced a new division, Paramount Digital Entertainment. The unit will develop interactive content for commercial online services and the World Wide Web.

Paramount TV exec VP Richard Lindheim also said Leonard J. Washington II has been named VP and exec producer, responsible for design, development and production of PDE content, while Scott Converse was named senior VP of technology, responsible for technical aspects of the venture.

Washington previously was director of strategic alliances for the Paramount Technology Group, while Converse was a Viacom technology VP.

All three execs emphasized that PDE’s business model calls for the unit to be revenue-generating. Advertising and subscriber fees, they said, are among options that may be considered as the venture evolves.

In addition to using online venues to promote existing properties, something most studios and TV networks are rushing to do, PDE plans to develop original content by next year. The unit also will develop online programming for pharmaceutical and health-care company Bristol-Myers Squibb. That programming will address women’s health, fitness and beauty issues.

The Bristol- Myers online forums, Lindheim said, eventually could be spun off into TV shows. “The desire is to develop TV programming compatible with the Bristol-Myers site, more in the area of reality shows.”

PDE’s World Wide Web site, which launched July 25, features material from studio properties “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Entertainment Tonight.”

Washington said however, that original content is slated to go online in 1996. “We don’t just want to do Web pages that promote our properties, which we think is important, but we want to leverage the existing talent already inside

Paramount, such as our stable of writers and producers.” Washington added that other on-the-lot talent such as graphic artists from the studio’s Production Resource Center and staff from inhouse ad agency 5555 would be called upon as PDE contributors.

Paramount’s current home page on the World Wide Web is http://www. paramount. com.

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