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Nibblebox bows with programs by students

Debut same day as ill-fated Pop.com's planned launch

While some are becoming wary of jumping into the online game after the recent blowup of several big-name entertainment sites, the celebs behind new Netcaster Nibblebox.com are proceeding with their push into cyberspace.

Nibblebox, founded by helmer Doug Liman (“Go,” “Swingers”), former NBC senior veepee of primetime series Dave Bartis and telecom specialist Elizabeth Hamburg, will today bow its first full slate of programming — all created by college students.The trio met while attending Brown U.

Launch was to be on the same day that DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment had planned to bow high-profile Netcaster Pop.com. Plug was pulled on the venture.

Backed by $5.5 million in financing from investment firms topped by Sandy Climan, Terry Semel and Michael Milken, among others, the Netco’s fall lineup includes eight new shows as well as live feeds from almost 50 college radio stations nationwide.

Nibblebox has affiliated itself with 140 colleges, where students are used to guerrilla marketing by inundating campuses with posters and handouts to encourage aspiring filmmakers, animators and game designers to submit content for the site.

If a work is accepted by Gotham and Santa Monica-based Nibblebox, the student gets new equipment to improve their creation and advice from the experts.

Among the directing talent that has signed up to mentor students are Liman, Tamra Davis (“CB4,” “Billy Madison”), Peyton Reed (“Bring It On”), Amy Heckerling (“Clueless”), Steven Soderbergh (“Erin Brockovich”), Wim Wenders (“Buena Vista Social Club”) and Betty Thomas (“Private Parts”). Sister act Minnie and Kate Driver also have agreed to mentor students.

Students receive a percentage of revenues the shows generate but receive no initial payment upfront.

Company hopes that by teaming up with unknown but Net-savvy talent, the site will be able to create revenue-generating hits among Netizens without having to spend millions on popular names.

Webisodes, or so-called Nibbles, bowing today include “Muffin Films” by UCLA grad student Amy Winfrey, who created a series of Webimations showing what happens when muffins decide to strike back; “100% Ground Beef,” a camp-is-hell story by Mike Schlief, a student at Quinnipiac College who was mentored by “Family Guy” producer Sherry Gunther.

Site has already generated buzz with “Virtual Rob,” an interactive series created by USC students Rob Kerkovich and Nick Howard in which Netizens can tell a live-action Kerkovich what to do as he loiters in his apartment or gets ready to go out.

Nibblebox plans to syndicate its content to other Web sites or turn programming into offline television shows or films. Site will also generate revenues via advertising.

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