Kutcher, Goldberg shingle to bridge the gap
Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg’s Katalyst shingle is looking to bridge the gap between digital and TV.At the CW, the producers are developing the pilot “I Pledge,” which began life as an online property Katalyst launched on the eve of Barack Obama’s election as president. Originally uploaded as “The Presidential Pledge,” Katalyst teamed up with MySpace to feature celebrities pledging to volunteer their service to charitable causes in 2009. As a TV show, “I Pledge” will follow those stars as they highlight causes they believe in, and help solve a problem in the process. “I Pledge” comes on the heels of “Blah Girls,” another Katalyst digital property that syndicated entertainment mag “The Insider” recently began airing, and is also being developed as a half-hour TV series (Daily Variety, May 12). “Our business model changed about 12 months ago,” Goldberg said. “We started looking at the landscape and what was happening in TV and media, and decided to make a big push into the digital world, with the idea of creating assets. One part of the gameplan was finding assets that would cross over into TV.” Katalyst also brought on board MTV vet Rod Aissa (“The Osbournes,” “Newlyweds”) as exec VP of TV, working alongside Goldberg, Kutcher and their Katalyst partner Karey Burke. Aissa was familiar to Kutcher and Goldberg, having been an exec on their MTV series “Punk’d.” “He made a tremendous difference for us,” Goldberg said. “We’ve got an active roster of shows crossing network lines and cable lines.” Meanwhile, given the cost of piloting series, Goldberg said Katalyst “found that not only can you pilot online, you can monetize it. There’s a great business taking properties and having them live on TV.” Katalyst’s digital team has eight different Web properties in play right now, and hopes to have between 16 and 20 up by the end of the year. Goldberg said he believed 20% to 30% of those titles might then be developed for TV. On the unscripted front, Katalyst also has the upcoming season two of ABC’s “True Beauty” (which it produces with Tyra Banks) and the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “My Excellent Adventure,” which is among the nascent cabler’s inaugural list of shows. Other projects in development include a stunt show, described as another Web-TV convergence, for MTV; a dating series for BET; and the tentatively titled “Anger House” (produced with SuperDelicious) for TV Land. On the scripted side, Burke just scored the series pickup at the CW for “The Beautiful Life,” which will air Wednesdays this fall. Katalyst also has the project “Good Girls,” from scribes Sherry Bilsing and Ellen Plummer, set up at CBS, as well as an untitled project at Lifetime from Gillian Vigman and Julia Lee Wolov, and an untitled high school comedy (penned by Flint Wainess) at Nickelodeon. Katalyst has been working under a deal at CBS TV Studios; that pact is set to expire, but both sides are in talks about extending the relationship. “We’re talking right now,” Goldberg said. “We’ve had a really strong relationship with CBS. We need to service CBS and the CW, and Karey did just that with ‘Beautiful Life’ and ‘Good Girls.’ ” Katalyst is also focused on producing more scripted fare for cable. “We’re open to putting the focus on cable,” Goldberg said.