Z.com whispers its bow

Dot-com's launch starts with A-list show sked

Z.com, the first of a slew of new Hollywood-backed sites to bow since Warner Bros. launched Entertaindom.com last year, quietly unveiled itself Thursday with a slate of high-profile original programming it hopes connects as hits with Netizens.

The soft launch of the long-in-the-works site, founded by Internet incubator Idealab (eToys, GoTo.com), Brad Grey’s Basic Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer and Maverick Records co-founder Guy Oseary, finally helped end months of speculation of what Z would become.

Site’s bow also jump-started, once again, Hollywood’s efforts to create viewable and interactive content for the Web that is tied to online advertising as a revenue source.

Sampling of content

However, the Burbank-based company only launched a fraction of its content Wednesday, with the majority of its programming bowing during its official launch later this year. Additional shows will launch throughout the summer.

Joe DiNunzio, Z’s CEO and former veep of new ventures for Walt Disney Imagineering, said in a statement on the site that the new venture is an “outlet where well-known Hollywood talent and rising artists can explore new projects for the Web. The excitement will be in the diversity and ability to experiment. Z.com is not film, it’s not television, and it’s not print.

“Z.com is an adventure that compels us to experiment every day. How will we know when we get it right? You will tell us. What you love stays, what you hate goes.”

The site’s first round of programming includes several animated series, gameshows, standup comedy acts, interactive games, footage from tours by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as content from Bruckheimer, who has said he will produce short adventure films and helmer-producer Oliver Stone, who plans to create six-minute conspiracy features.

Proceeding with caution

Z.com, like its soon-to-bow rival sites Pop.com from DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment, and the rest of Icebox.com, has been very cautious in bowing their ventures, fearing a backlash from critics should the destinations not prove a hit among Netizens. The recent demise of Digital Entertainment Network didn’t help speed up the launches.

“We’ve reached a hurdle that we’ve been looking forward to since we formed the company late last year,” DiNunzio said.

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