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NewFronts 2015: AOL Turns to James Franco, Jared Leto for Original Fare

AOL’s lineup of original video programming for 2015-16 will rely again on reality-ish material from celebs, including actors James Franco and Oscar-winner Jared Leto.

The Internet-media company announced its 2015 Digital Content NewFronts slate Tuesday in New York.

AOL positioned itself as shifting to a year-round programming slate with the launch of what it dubbed its “Content 365” strategy. Notably, however, it did not announce another season of “#CandidlyNicole” — the reality series starring Nicole Richie — which has been one of AOL’s top performers for the last two years.

“AOL is bringing the very best of culture and code to the NewFront(s) stage this year,” chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong said. “We have spent the last five years investing in original video and building one of the most scaled video platforms in the world.”

The company last year carried Franco’s “Making a Scene” — a series of mashup spoofs of famous movies — and will bring the series back for a second season.

According to AOL, its 2014 slate of originals has so far generated about 200 million views across all 16 shows released.

At its NewFronts presentation Tuesday, AOL highlighted the renewal of “Park Bench” with Steve Buscemi for season two (announced last week). In addition, it showcased the previously announced “The HuffPost Show,” the news site’s first live program — shot in front of a studio audience in Los Angeles — that is skedded to air weekly Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, in the series “Beyond the Horizon with Jared Leto,” the actor will engage in conversations “about the future with the world’s most interesting visionaries in the arenas of science, art, technology and politics,” AOL said.

Overall, AOL touts a library of more than 1 million videos, which are available across 16 connected-TV and over-the-top devices including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Samsung Smart TVs.

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