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Sundance CD-ROM foray

Long known for its commitment to independent filmmakers, the Sundance Institute is entering the fast-moving world of multimedia with the announcement that it will create the Sundance Interactive Children’s Library, which will produce two CD-ROM titles for Paramount Interactive.

Sundance will team up with interactive designer New Learning Project for their first productions, which are expected to be released in 1995. The first project will be based on the children’s play “Otis Furioso,” which was written by Paul Allman, with music by Michael Silversher.

According to Michelle Satter, the Sundance Institute’s feature film program director, the deal has been in the talking stages for almost a year.

“We shared the same vision of what we wanted these products to be,” Statter said. “Paramount Interactive is looking to push the envelope in terms of interactive product. It seemed like a great match.”

The Sundance projects are unique in the multimedia area in that they are the first interactive children’s products from original plays and musicals, rather than books, which have long been a source of interactive material.

“We hope to create an entertainment product that enables children to participate in the creative experience by combining interactive technology with the imaginative power of theater,” said Robert Redford, who pointed out that this marks the Sundance Institute’s first effort to redirect content for new media technologies. “Whatever the format, I think a writer’s vision is always going to be what drives entertainment.”

The two CD-ROM titles will provide children with a wide range of interactive options and composition tools allowing them to create their own stories. Each product will enable children to collect their favorite songs, sequences and characters in a multimedia “scrapbook,” which they can store and play back.

Betsy Pace, Paramount Interactive’s general manager, said the company was attracted to the children’s interactive market by both the impressive rate of expansion, and the unlimited creative possibilities.

“Our whole mission is to create compelling multimedia entertainment,” Pace said. “The market is changing so fast. We want to take advantage of this emerging market. We want to create a new format.”

The Sundance Children’s Theatre was established in 1991 to develop a new body of contemporary children’s classics for stage and screen. The theater annually commissions new theatrical scripts from playwrights and novelists and develops them through an annual playwright’s workshop. Each summer, the children’s theater produces two new plays and musicals at its outdoor arena in Sundance.

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