Company inks Web deals with Yahoo, MSN

MSN has pacted with BermanBraun to create an entertainment-driven portal set to launch early next year.

Separately, BermanBraun has signed a deal with Yahoo to create “The Lunacy Report,” an online series hosted by Vance DeGeneres.

The MSN site, centered on celebrity and pop culture, will incorporate MSN content that now largely stands on its own, as well as newly commissioned material, original games and other applications.

BermanBraun will produce the site for MSN and work with advertisers to incorporate brands with the content.

Both projects put Lloyd Braun — who runs the company with Gail Berman — firmly back into the online space, a year and a half after he ankled as president of Yahoo Media Group. New site’s competition will include OMG, the celeb-driven destination Braun developed at Yahoo.

The new MSN/BermanBraun site will be created largely by former Yahoo employees recruited by BermanBraun in recent months; a staff of 10 will ultimately be put in place to help launch it. MSN and BermanBraun are still testing names for the destination.

As for the advertising component, BermanBraun launched last year with an eye toward partnerships with advertisers, having signed a first-look deal with Pepsi early on. It’s unclear whether Pepsi will play a role in the MSN endeavor.

Insiders say the new site will take a more mainstream approach to covering entertainment vs. the snarkiness of sites like TMZ. Site will be able to tap immediately into MSN’s hefty audience.

“Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman have been ingrained in the entertainment and media industries for years, and we at MSN are more committed than ever to developing relevant and engaging content for our millions of users,” said Rob Bennett, MSN’s general manager for entertainment, video and sports.

BermanBraun has been on a roll of late, scoring high-profile projects at the nets next season, including Fox’s “Virtuality” and NBC’s “America’s Toughest Jobs.”

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