PDE to o'see 26 three-minute Webisodes

This article was corrected on July 24, 2000.

You can’t call Paramount’s Web efforts stodgy anymore.

AtomFilms has landed the exclusive rights to Paramount Digital Entertainment’s first entertainment property for the Web, the weekly animated series “Forty and Shorty” created by Claude Brooks and Rick Gomez (MTV’s “Lyricist Lounge Show”).

Deal calls for the traditionally Internet-conservative PDE to oversee the production of 26 three-minute Webisodes that revolve around two 13-year-old misfit friends, one black, one white, who live across the street from each other, one in the ghetto, the other in a trailer park.

Brooks is producing “Forty and Shorty” with Gomez through their Par-based C to the B Prods., AtomFilms and Paramount Television Group. The production company has an overall TV deal with Par TV.

The Webisodes will begin airing on AtomFilms.com July 26.

“I’ve been given the chance to do something edgy, irreverent and fun,” Brooks said. “Where else could you do something like this? If it happens to become a TV show or movie, great. But by no means did we think, let’s make this for TV.”

For AtomFilms, deal comes only days after the Netcaster announced a promotional partnership with New Line, enabling Netizens to create a musicvid for the upcoming Adam Sandler comedy “Little Nicky.”

For Par, move signals that despite its studio brethren, which are in the midst of creating and promoting their own Netcasting sites, the studio may be looking to provide Web programming for other dot-coms.

Effort would prove more cost efficient, considering Par doesn’t need a staff to run a Netcasting venture or spend dollars to push the site.

Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Par and Brooks will likely receive a cut of all revenues generated by AtomFilms, as well as from clothing lines developed by apparel maker Lugz, a major sponsor of the show. Atom and Lugz are readying a major advertising campaign to push the show.

While significant, Par remains cautious over what message the move sends to Hollywood.

“This is something that is new for Paramount but it’s not going to signal a new shift toward the Web for us,” Leonard Washington, prexy of Paramount Digital Entertainment told Daily Variety. “For now, this is a comfortable way for the studio to dip its toe in the water. At PDE, we’d love to do more things. But historically, our studio has always taken a conservative approach to new businesses. Right now, we have a producer that’s very passionate about a project.”

Kaaren Shalom, executive director of interactive marketing at Par’s motion picture marketing division, oversees the creation of all of the studio’s film Web sites, including “M:I 2″ and “Sleepy Hollow.”

Viacom’s coming merger with CBS has only slowed things down for the division that has produced popular movie Web sites, including those for “M:I-2″ and “Sleepy Hollow,” but little else.

Brooks said he is already working on other projects.

Brooks and Gomez are the co-creators and executive producers of “Lounge.” Brooks also produced the sitcoms “Claudes Crib” and “Hitz.” Thesp Gomez has appeared in “Three to Tango” and the upcoming Spielberg-Hanks HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers.”

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