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Zingy dials up cell-phone content

Cell users get big Mac attack

Zingy, the company that helped make ringtones a phenomenon, is getting into the mobile-video biz.

Firm has inked an exclusive pact with Bernie Mac for a series of original mobile-only sketches and has two other deals with undisclosed celebs in which the content is in post-production, according to Zingy execs.

Zingy is one of several distributors that bridges the gap between the entertainment and mobile worlds by going directly to talent. Until now, it has concentrated mostly on music and musicvideos.

But company says it wants to move into original scripted entertainment, despite the fact that nonmusic content may not lend itself to the personalization that made ringtones a cash cow.

Through star power and carriers’ marketing reach, ringtones became a huge success several years ago, as consumers went to carriers and portals to download for-fee ringtones from the likes of 50 Cent. The ringtone market is thought to have exceeded $500 million in the U.S. last year.

Mac, star of Fox laffer “The Bernie Mac Show,” will offer his “lessons on life” in the sketches, Zingy said.

Other distributors, such as Infospace, also have begun to dabble with nonmusic entertainment, through downloadable games and so-called screentones, which use a movie clip as a ring.

But original entertainment is relatively new terrain. And while the last few months have brought a flood of television property to mobile, from network news to “Laguna Beach,” the Mac deal ushers in some of the first video products not to come from a studio or net.

“I think it will shock people how many products will start on mobile and end up backing into traditional media,” Zingy veep Scott Debson said.