Studio investing heavily in Net

Jim Banister has been upped to executive veep of Warner Bros. Online, to focus on the development of original broadband programming for the studio’s upcoming Internet portal Entertaindom, to include an online entertainment magazine show and weekly Superman series.

The promotion of Banister to the newly created position, signals Warner’s intent to invest more heavily in its presence online in 1999. The company upped top TV and marketing exec Jim Moloshok to prexy of Warner Bros. Online last week, to whom Banister will report.

Banister, previously the veep and general manager of the division, will oversee several projects, including the creation and launch of Entertaindom, the exploration of international Internet markets and creation of branded communities.

He will also develop original broadband interactive entertainment programming for Entertaindom, skedded to launch in March. The Website will feature movie, music and television news and multimedia, not necessarily Time Warner related.

The division is currently producing the Internet’s first ever broadband episodic entertainment-based magazine show, similar to “Entertainment Tonight” called “Drive-On.com.” The series, skedded to debut on Entertaindom in April, will feature behind-the-scenes stories about the film, TV and music worlds.

The online magazine will be viewable only through a DVD-ROM to be bundled with new computers or available directly from the Website or in stores where DVDs are sold.

A second weekly program, a 3D-animated “Superman” series, in collaboration with DC Comics and Brilliant Digital, will also appear on the site later this year.

“The focus is on entertainment. So far the Internet has been about obtaining information,” Banister said. “Entertaindom is a platform to showcase Internet-based entertainment properties that have a longer life for the studio on the Internet, allowing us to bridge into an entirely new area.”

Prior to joining Warner Bros., Banister served as director of multi-media and post production for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and produced several TV specials.

He is also a founding member and current board member of the Internet Content Coalition, a non-profit organization focusing on the establishment of standards and practices for content, publishing, technology and commerce on the Internet.

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