After purge, next wave of sites is set

Eveo, Pop, Thirsty, UrbanEntertainment making ripples on the 'Net

With AtomFilms and iFilm seen as veterans of online entertainment after only a little over a year in business, several new kids on the block are readying to emerge and make their own splashes.

  • AntEye.com: Headed by CEO Matti Leshem, the former USA Broadcasting exec launched Barry Diller’s experimental WAMI-TV station in Miami, Netcaster AnEye identifies emerging filmmakers and funds their TV pilot ideas with budgets of up to $100,000 and short digital films with up to $250,000 for distribution across all media. Los Angeles-based company recently agreed to fund and distribute an upcoming documentary by helmer David O. Russell (“Three Kings”), “Benny Hernandez.” Site bowed in April.

  • Eveo.com: Netcaster Eveo.com posts short films online and pays the filmmakers based on how many times the submission is downloaded. The San Francisco-based Web site, founded by CEO Oliver Zitoun, offers over 1,000 titles, which it hopes to syndicate to other Web sites. Site bowed in April.

  • Fox.com: Fox is beginning to reveal its new facelift for Fox.com, the revamped Netcaster of a slate of original material and adapted programming based on Fox’s TV shows. Venture is headed up by senior veep of entertainment Jordan Kurzweil and prexy Jon Richmond. Projects include the dot-com counterparts of “American High,” which reveals more information and watchable interviews with real-life cast members of the show set in a Chicago school.

  • NibbleBox.com: Helmer Doug Liman (“Go,” “Swingers”) created the Netcaster with Dave Bartis, former head of 3 Arts Television, and Upstart Ventures prexy Elizabeth Hamburg to create Internet programming with and to mentor college students. Star mentors, including John Leguizamo, Steven Soderbergh and Larry Karaszewski, will collaborate on projects that are submitted to the site and selected for development. NibbleBox, based in Los Angeles and New York, already has radio programming and five original Webisodic programs. Site officially launches later this year.

  • Pop.com: New dot-com announcements don’t come more hyped than Pop.com, founded by DreamWorks, Imagine Entertainment and Paul Allen’s $50 million. However, since the announcement of its launch in November, signs of programming have yet to bow; company has stumbled trying to land deals with talent for programming. But Pop has yet to lose its fizzle. Site is skedded to launch sometime in September or October. If nothing else, it has content (short films, scripts and music) from two indie sites it acquired — UndergroundFilm.com and CountingDown.com.

  • Sony: After succeeding online with games (“Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy”) through its Sony Online Entertainment, and movie and TV Web sites via Columbia TriStar Interactive arms, Yair Landau, prexy of newly created Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment is readying to get the studio into the Netcasting game, planning a yet to be named site that will distrib original programming on the Web. New venture, which is still being tightly kept under wraps, will likely leverage the company’s studio, TV and PlayStation vidgame brands for content. Venture isn’t expected to bow until next year.

  • Thirsty.com: Handprint Entertainment founders Jeff Pollack and Benny Medina have bowed Thirsty.com, a Netcaster that targets the youth market. Lifestyle venture will likely leverage Handprint’s young stable of managed clients for original content. Handprint, a Los Angeles-based management and TV and film production outfit, was an outgrowth of Medina and Pollack’s creation of the hit series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Medina brings his music background to the site, having served as head of A&R for Motown Records and general manager of Warner Bros. music.

  • UrbanEntertainment.com: Tapping into the African-American market, the Netcaster headed by Michael Jenkinson, a former veep of feature film production and acquisitions at Fox, has already grabbed attention for selling the film rights to its Internet series “Undercover Brother” to Universal-based Imagine Entertainment for $2 million. Writer-producer John Ridley (“Three Kings,” NBC’s “Third Watch”), who created “Brother,” is readying to create a second animated Webisodic series for the dot-com later this summer. Deals with helmer Reginald Hudlin (“House Party”) and scribe Tina Andrews (“Why Do Fools Fall in Love”) for shows have also been inked, with UrbanEntertainment producing and splitting revenues with talent.

  • WebEI: Gearing up to give iFilmPro.com and Creative Planet a run for their film business and production dollars, WebEI, funded by singer Michael Jackson, will offer online tools to established filmmakers and studios as well as newcomers trying to break into the biz by creating an online production studio that includes resources simplifying script and property acquisition, casting, film financing, crew and vendor sourcing, budgeting and scheduling, accounting, post-production and sales. Skedded to launch later this year, WebEI was founded by former Warner Bros. Online exec Bradford Scherick and pic producer Aaron Meyerson (“Dumb and Dumber,” “Inspector Gadget”) and Internet incubator Rundell, Coursey & Co., whose principals Derek Rundell and Court Coursey, also launched CertifiedMail.com.

  • Z.com: Beating Pop.com to the Web as a high-profile Hollywood-backed Netcaster, site’s founders include Idealab (eToys), Basic Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer and Maverick Records partner Guy Oseary) Z offers up short films and Webisodic live-action and animated content from a slate of top talent. Bruckheimer, Chris Rock, Oliver Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, Mike Judge, Alanis Morrissette, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and David Spade have already inked to produce for the site. Joe DiNunzio, formerly at Disney Imagineering, heads up the effort.

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