Aaron Spelling may have another hit on hands — but this time on the home computer.
The veteran television producer, who has made a living off of tapping into cultural trends, is logging onto the Internet in hopes that his latest endeavor, AsSeenIn.com, will have Web heads transforming their living rooms into the sets of his TV shows — from the campy “Melrose Place” to the wholesome “7th Heaven.”
Spelling, like several other TV producers, is joining a new crop of Internet entrepreneurs hoping to tap into the $50 million product placement biz and the $3 billion e-commerce arena. Their Web sites will sell everything from the furniture on the sets of viewers’ favorite shows to the clothes off their favorite actors’ backs.
Well, sort of.
AsSeenIn.com isn’t selling the original items, but rather exact duplicates. Consider it interactive product placement.
Visitors to the site can tour show sets and click on individual items to view closeups and descriptions — and make purchases, if they wish.
Buy a character’s car
When clicking on a boardgame on the shelf of a bedroom in “7th Heaven,” for example, a visitor will be whisked away to e-tailer EToys’ Web site, where they can buy the game. Viewers can also purchase the show family’s van through Dodge’s Web site.
The site’s biggest room has 30 to 40 items for sale — from bed sheets to the beds, knickknacks and clothing.
Initially, items will be available for purchase only through manufacturers. But in the future, the site’s creators hope to handle sales themselves, in the manner of Amazon.com. AsSeenIn.com’s creators expect to collect a percentage of the sales from merchants and ads.
In development for two years, AsSeenIn.com was originally skedded to launch last Thanksgiving, but decided to open up shop today — the same day that “Melrose Place,” perhaps Spelling’s most product placement-friendly show, will air its final original episode.
Although the series won’t be returning, the sets and accessories of “Melrose Place” will still be featured on the revamped AsSeenIn site in the fall.
“People are constantly calling the networks and asking them where certain products came from,” says Sam Baldoni, managing partner of AsSeenIn.com — one of three people, including Kim Thurber and Greg Schwartz, who are creating the site.
In one instance, about 35,000 people called Warner Bros. and the producers of “Friends” to find out about a lamp. “We wanted to tap into that market,” Baldoni said.
Baldoni, a 17-year product placement vet who runs Baldoni Entertainment, supplies production resources for all of Spelling’s shows when not supplying products for features.
“This launch is to get our fans to tell us what they want to see and what they desire most,” Baldoni said.
Initially, the site will feature only the sets of three shows — “Charmed,” “Any Day Now” and “7th Heaven.”
But when the fall season picks up again in September, the site will be relaunched to include all of Spelling-produced shows, as well as show sets from other major producers, and items from film sets. Deals with specific producers and studios are expected to be finalized this summer.