'Heroes,' 'Office' webisodes available in July
For signs of lingering impact from this year’s Writers Guild strike, look no further than NBC’s 2008-2009 lineup.Now that issues revolving around scribes and the Internet have been cleared for the time being, NBC Digital Entertainment is moving Peacock properties online in a big way. Net announced plans to run original “Heroes,” “Chuck” and “The Office” webisodes beginning in July. Net also announced a “30 Rock” online initiative — dubbed “30 Rock 360″ — that mirrors web platforms for “The Office,” “Heroes” and “Lipstick Jungle.” “We’re incredibly lucky to have such collaborative writers, producers and actors to work with,” said Vivi Zigler, exec VP of NBC Digital Entertainment. “The Office” previously produced a round of webisodes in 2006, featuring several of the show’s characters investigating missing account money. That series, dubbed “The Accountants,” even scored a Daytime Emmy for outstanding Broadband content in 2007. But after that, with unresolved questions of payment and residuals on original web product, the show didn’t return with another round last year. “At our show, we dealt with a lot of these issues earlier than most,” “The Office” exec producer Greg Daniels said last week at a Hollywood Radio and TV Society luncheon. “After doing the webisodes we ran into the beginning of the conflict.” Under terms of the deal hammered out by the WGA and the studios earlier this year, any new media project written by professional scribes is now covered by the Guild. That obviously includes the “Office” webisodes, which are penned by the same “Office” writers who handle the mother ship. Now, with a deal in place, the webisodes are back. “The strike did resolve our issues with our chief creative partners,” said NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman. “Now we have terms of business with them, we can do webisodes, integration. We’re able to talk to them without the elephant in the room. We can create with them openly and freely.” Among the other offerings, the “30 Rock 360″ experience will include faux online business courses taught by Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), as well as Jack’s blog. NBC will also launch a new online production, “Fears, Secrets & Desires,” a user-generated program in which audience members submit stories that will then be produced into actual content. NBC promises that the shorts will be performed “by Hollywood talent normally associated with the big or small screens, not necessarily the computer screen.”
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