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New-media startups ramping up

HitFix to offer entertainment options, news

New-media startups looking to bring entertainment insights to the masses are ramping up.

Entertainment site HitFix will launch this week. Founded by ex-Reed Business Information development execs Jen Wilhelmi Sargent and Arash Hadipanah and ex-Latimes.com and MSN.com film editor Gregory Ellwood, the startup offers the calendar application Forecast, which enables consumers to track and customize upcoming entertainment options based on their zip code and tastes. Last week the HitFix team made the rounds of studios to talk about advertising to their target 18-34 demo as well as access to new trailers, sets and talent.

HitFix also offers breaking movie news and blog content from Ellwood (whose blog will focus on awards coverage) and Ain’t It Cool News reviewer Drew McWeeny (who retires his “Moriarty” moniker after 12 years), TV reporting from Zap2It’s Daniel Fienberg, and music info from ex-Billboard music maven Melinda Newman. Sports will come online soon.

Editors will comment on newsfeeds supplied by the Associated Press. “There’s a gap between the insider trades and the TMZ gossip side,” Sargent said. “We’re catering to consumers, like Entertainment Weekly.”

HitFix has deals with partners Live Nation, Fandango, StubHub, Netflix and Amazon.com. Facebook and iPhone apps will launch in February, followed by other mobile devices such as BlackBerry.

Another startup, Wopular.com from Rotten Tomatoes co-founder Senh Duong, aggregates and presents breaking news in a user-friendly interface. The site showcases constantly updated stories and a newspaper rack of RSS feeds from top media outlets. Ads, video and widgets will follow when traffic warrants it. “I’m like the editor of a newspaper picking interesting stories I think people should read,” Duong said.

Wopular offers no original content or commentary (except from readers), but the price was right for Duong to launch this site by himself, with no staff, in one week: $10.

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