Warner Bros TV deals with Essence

Studio, magazine team for Web content

Warner Bros. TV Group and Time Inc. magazine Essence are teaming on a cross-platform initiative to create programming for the smallscreen and Internet.

Mag’s website, which will serve as platform for the content, is slated for relaunch late this summer in collaboration with WB TV’s Telepictures Prods. Among the first projects: “Extra on Essence,” a series of entertainment reports geared to the African-American femme aud, and style skein “Fab in a Flash.”

Bruce Rosenblum, prexy of the Warner Bros. TV Group, said the collaboration could also spawn made-for-DVD releases down the road. He said the goal of the venture, which follows recent cross-platform expansions by TMZ, is to draw on each group’s “complimentary expertise” to create content with a distinctive voice.

For now, at least, the focus will be on nonscripted fare.

Telepictures prexy Hilary Estey McLoughlin says they plan to try out new projects on Essence.com that could develop into cable or network programming for African-American femmes.

“It’s really an underserved audience on the Web, and it’s one of the fastest-growing audiences on the Web,” Estey McLoughlin said. “There are tremendous opportunities.”

Venture gives Essence a way to broaden its brand beyond print, a challenging sector, into new media with the help of corporate siblings.

“Extra on Essence” will launch first. It will be hosted by Tanika Ray, correspondent and weekend co-anchor of the Telepictures entertainment news skein. “Extra” will contribute entertainment news to the mag as well.

The Web video will run five to seven minutes, according to Essence editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray. “Fab in a Flash” installments, which will draw from the mag’s staff, will run the same length.

Estey McLaughlin said there’s no set timetable for future programming, noting that the content developed will dictate scheduling.

“It’ll be within a fairly short period of time,” Estey McLaughlin said. “The goal is not to wait forever,” she added.

“This is not a corporate mandated relaunch,” said Lisa Hackner, exec VP of creative affairs for Telepictures. “This about a group of us that got together to make content.”

The content, she said, will evolve organically out of the collaboration. “It’s going to be what the market wants,” Hackner said.

Telepictures also produces “The Tyra Banks Show,” MomLogic.com and TMZ.com, a co-venture with AOL.

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