CW to produce behind-the-scenes series for netcast

“That ’70s Show” is getting high on high-tech.

In an attempt to drive Internet users back to their television sets, “’70s” producer Carsey-Werner is creating a weekly Web-based series that highlights behind-the-scenes antics of the laffer. Skein will be Webcast exclusively just before regular episodes of the Fox show, beginning March 27.

As part of a deal inked with Internet video distribber Intervu, Carsey-Werner will create six 10-minute episodes of “Behind the Scenes at That ’70s Show,” enough to cover this season’s remaining firstrun Fox broadcasts.

A decision on a second season of the Webcasts will be made over the summer based on the success rate of the show among Netizens.

Intervu will distribute the weekly shorts across all three time zones at 7:30 p.m. at http://www.that70sshow.com and on several major portals using Microsoft’s Windows Media video streaming platform. The syndication deals with other dot-coms have not yet been inked.

New series will not be shown before rebroadcasted episodes. Fox has no plans on promoting the Webcasts on-air.

James Anderson, C-W’s senior veepee of publicity, said the idea for the “’70s” Webcast came out of “a brainstorming session between the publicity department and the producers.”

“The Internet has become very important for promotion,” he said. “We were looking for new ways to get people excited about the show. … We also see this as an extension of the series.”

The huge concentration of teen and young adult auds that tune into “’70s” on Fox make the skein a particularly friendly vehicle for the sort of Webbased skein C-W is launching.

“Our show is very fortunate to have a wonderfully loyal fan base on and off the ‘Net,” said “’70s” co-creator and exec producer Mark Brazill. “We think this new promotional series is a unique and interesting way to tap into the enormous reach of the Internet. It is also an opportunity to entice our loyal fans and to access new viewers by offering them a glimpse at the making of “That ’70s Show.'”

Fox Broadcasting has no role in the Webcasts, though C-W and the net are talking about future cooperation.

And should the test case prove successful, other networks and production companies could also decide to create online counterparts for their shows to attract eyeballs.

“As a company we are always looking for what will help make our shows stand out and be different,” said executive producer Tom Werner. “This is an exciting venture and as the demand for content continues to grow and the technology gets even better I think the opportunities around such a project will be tremendous. We are truly looking forward to our new relationship with Intervu and Microsoft.”

Said Ed Huguez, chief operating office of Intervu, “As consumer demand for access to music, video and other streaming media on the Web explodes, the Internet will continue to become a ubiquitous entertainment platform that delivers content complementary to television programming.”

Other users of Intervu’s technology include CNN, House of Blues, NBC and Turner Broadcasting.

Intervu’s most recent high-profile event was Warner Bros. TV and ABC’s Webcast of the “Drew Carey Show” in November, which attracted nearly 2 million Netizens.

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