Oscar winner inks Netcaster content deal

Animation Netcaster Shockwave.com continued to expand its business model Friday as a celeb-backed online programmer, inking Oscar and Emmy winner James L. Brooks to create exclusive content for the dot com.

Under terms of the deal, Brooks and his Sony-based production studio, Gracie Films, will provide 300 minutes of animation that will bow sometime in the fall, according to Shockwave Chairman Rob Burgess.

Burgess said that it is entirely up to Brooks as to whether the animation will be shown in vignettes or long form.

“The great thing about the Internet is that you don’t have to decide that sort of thing like you do with a TV schedule,” Burgess said. “You can just do what feels right.”

Brooks is the executive producer of “The Simpsons” and producer and writer of “As Good As It Gets.” He also executive produced “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Rhoda,” “Lou Grant” and “Taxi.”

Success in three media

“The great thing is that he has had successes in three different media types: motion pictures, live-action sitcoms and prime time animation,” Burgess said.

Whether any of Brooks’ animated content will hit Shockwave.com anytime soon is still to be determined.

Gracie Films already has a full slate of projects in production, including the Penny Marshall-directed “Riding in Cars With Boys.” In February, Brooks bought “American Loser,” a spec script by Brad Harrison that is skedded to go into production. The company is also planning to begin shooting a TV pilot in Chicago starring Joan Cusack.

Burgess declined to reveal financial specifics about the deal with Brooks and Gracie Films. The pact was hammered out by ICM CEO Jeff Berg and law firms Ziffren Brittenham Branca & Fischer , and Loeb & Loeb.

“Shockwave.com is an ideal platform for Gracie Films to extend it’s animation business to the Internet,” Berg said. “Jim has a real enthusiasm for this medium and he’ll attract an outstanding community of artists.”

The deal with Brooks comes on the heels of content pacts struck with other talent, including Tim Burton, Stan Lee and “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Entertainment site

Shockwave is trying to position itself as an all-purpose entertainment site, offering free downloads of animation, music and games.

Other projects in the works include a deal with Joe Shields, the creator of cult Internet faves “Frog in a Blender” and “Micro-Gerbil 2000.” Shields, also known as Joe Cartoon, will create ten new animations for the site. The company has launched “Shockwave Singles,” which are animated music videos that use MP3 technology to transmit sound. Among the first “Singles” available on the site is Beck’s “Nicotine and Gravy.”

“We’re not only signing the big stars, we’re discovering new talent,” Burgess said.

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