Web kudos lure H'wood biggies
Hollywood bigwigs are giving their blessing to a new effort to bring Oscar glitz to the Web.The Weinstein Co.’s Harvey Weinstein, Fox’s Jim Gianopulos and Showtime’s Matt Blank are among those who will sit on the jury for a film and video spinoff of Internet nods the Webbys. The Webby Film & Video Awards will hand out kudos in about 15 categories, including, in an Oscar-ish turn, actor and picture. Drama, reality and animation will also be among the categories. “The Oscars honor what premieres in the movie theater, and the Emmys honor original content that premieres on television,” Webby Awards exec director David-Michel Davies told Daily Variety. “But until now, there’s been nothing that honors original content that’s made specifically for the Internet.” Organizers were quick to emphasize that only video created for the Web would be eligible; repurposed content that debuted on television or in other media would not qualify. Submitted material is expected to come from a wide range of sources, from established video providers such as AtomFilms to individuals who created video blogs. The Firm’s Rich Frank and the Sundance Channel’s Larry Aidem also will serve on the jury. Kudos are being overseen by former Variety publisher Gerry Byrne, who also runs literary nods the Quill Awards. Webby film and video prizes will be handed out in June at a separate Gotham ceremony and screening the night before traditional Webbys are awarded. Submissions are due in October; noms will be announced in April. No cash prize is associated with the Webbys. When they launched a decade ago, the awards helped confer legitimacy on text and graphic achievements on the Web. They will now try to do the same for the online world of original video, which has been seen as a sprawling, sometimes uneven, mix of the polished and the homemade. Bringing on biz power brokers is also a way of giving content more cachet in Hollywood. Webbys are presented by the Intl. Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, a consortium of execs and creators with a digital bent. Members include media and Hollywood figures such as Richard Branson and Matt Groening.