Pop snaps and crackles before launch

D'Works, Imagine co-prod can't find partner

Pop.com’s plug has been officially pulled.

DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment execs decided to officially shutter their joint entertainment Netcasting venture over the Labor Day weekend, ending any last ditch efforts to try to sell off or merge the comedy-focused venture with another dot-com.

The move now means that the Glendale-based company’s roughly 75 staffers have officially been laid off and closes the doors on a venture that has been hyped and eagerly anticipated since October, but was never launched.

Employees have until Friday to clean out their desks and move out of Pop’s offices.

“The partners decided over the weekend to pull the plug and not launch the Web site that we have worked so hard to create and believed in so damn much,” wrote one former exec in an e-mail.

Final plea

Staffers made a final plea to continue operating the site in a meeting with Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, but to no avail.

In the meeting, the partners were shown designs for the official site that was to have launched Sept. 18 — mockups that the execs had never seen before. Opinions were not swayed.

Merger talks between Pop.com and iFilm ended Friday in frustration. Pop’s officials had spoken to every major entertainment dot-com from AtomFilms to Z.com for a takeover but those talks also ended with no deal signed.

“Although the Internet continues to represent an exciting creative opportunity for us, the market has shifted dramatically since our original announcement, resulting in this being a less viable business for us,” said a Pop.com representative. “We will retain a small staff to maintain our creative endeavors. At this time, we have not made a decision regarding distribution of the original content we produced or acquired.”

New life for projects

Pop’s small library of Web projects acquired or created with celebs including Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Matthew McConaughey, as well as short films and Webisodic shows from Mondo Media, among others, will likely be featured on Countingdown.com, the movie fan site that Pop acquired during the summer.

It has long been assumed that Countingdown.com will take over Pop’s entertainment Netcasting efforts (Daily Variety, July 10).

That site’s roughly 12 staffers have not been laid off and DreamWorks has already used the site to showcase projects, including the opening sequence to the studio’s animated hit “Chicken Run.” DreamWorks and Imagine have said that they will likely spend $1 million to run the venture.

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