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Comcast books some ‘Face’ time

Cutler to create TV series 'Diaries'

Cable giant Comcast has partnered with Facebook, the college community-oriented Web site, to give young people who love to document their lives on video the chance to become TV stars.

Well, maybe not stars. But the videos of Facebook members could end up as a segment of a TV series called “Facebook Diaries,” which will be put together by Emmy-winning documentary producer R.J. Cutler (“30 Days,” “The War Room”).

“Everybody has a story to tell,” Cutler said. “The lives we lead are full of engaging narratives, and there’s a whole generation that’s savvy about the technology.”

What Comcast and Facebook are offering people whose self-referential videos grab Cutler’s attention, he said, is professional editing and distribution within “Facebook Diaries,” a 10-part half-hour series available not only to the Web sites (Comcast’s is called Ziddio) but to the video-on-demand platform that reaches more than 12 million Comcast subscribers.

Amy Banse, president of Comcast Interactive Media, said she’s negotiating with other cable operators to take the VOD “Facebook Diaries.”

Since computer users and cable subscribers will get these videos for no extra charge, Owen Van Natta, chief operating officer of Facebook, said he and Banse will seek out advertisers to sponsor “Facebook Diaries.” Most of Facebook’s 16 million regular users are under 30, Van Natta said, which means they’re still willing to experiment with new products, making the group a demographic target that advertisers will pay a premium to reach.

Van Natta views “Facebook Diaries” as an extension of the video sharing and critiquing that already thrives among Facebook members.

“Our users tend to be vocal,” he said, “and they’ll do the winnowing out by rating the videos. R.J. Cutler will have all that information” when he chooses which ones go into the series.

People can submit videos ranging in length from one minute to 20 minutes, Cutler said. He’ll center each “Facebook Diaries” half-hour around a specific theme, such as “Who am I” or “How I coped with a broken heart.”

Banse said she’s looking for as much raw emotion as possible in the videos, but Comcast will edit them for obscenity, vulgarity and copyright infringement.

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