NBC signs two web shows


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NBC Universal is taking another stab at bridging the Internet-TV divide.

The company has inked a deal with Stan Rogow, Brent Friedman and Jeff Sagansky's Electric Farm Entertainment for the domestic rights to their upcoming Internet sci-fi series "Gemini Division," starring Rosario Dawson.

NBC Uni also has acquired the rights to Electric Farm's next scripted online series, the zombie comedy "Woke Up Dead."

Sony Pictures TV International has come aboard to co-produce and distribute the two series internationally on mobile, broadband and traditional TV.

Under the deal with NBC Universal Digital Studio, the 50 three-minute episodes of "Gemini" and "Dead" will run on various company Web sites, including NBC.com.

The first several episodes of the series -- as many as eight -- will get a preview across a number of NBC Uni platforms, including TV networks.

"Our vision is to use the TV assets as a marketing device to attract viewers to the Internet series," Rogow said.

"Gemini," eyed for a late-summer launch, stars Dawson as a New York cop who uncovers a global conspiracy involving the creation of simulated live forms that have assimilated with the unsuspecting public.

Additionally, the two series also will be reformatted as seven half-hour episodes to air on TV. But Rogow stressed that "Gemini" and "Dead" are not intended to migrate directly from the Internet to television. As part of NBC Uni's deal with Electric Farm, NBC is getting first dibs at developing the properties as TV series.

"If there were to be a TV show, that would be a whole different show," he said.

That is a departure from the path NBC recently took with another scripted online drama series, "quarterlife," which fizzled in its much-hyped transplant to primetime.

Sources said Electric Farm has lined up a number of blue-chip integration/marketing partners for "Gemini," including Cisco Systems. Rogow declined to name any of them but noted that between the integration deals and the pacts with Sony and NBC Uni, the company's Web series are profitable going in.

"Gemini" is Electric Farm's follow-up to its first digital effort, the futuristic drama "Afterworld," which also is being distributed internationally by SPTI.

SPTI recently rolled out "Afterworld" in Australia on TV, broadband and mobile and on the U.K.'s Channel 4. The producers are looking for ways to wrap up the story in the series and are exploring an "Afterworld" feature as a possibility.

Electric Farm's latest Internet series, "Dead," centers on an USC student who wakes up underwater in the bathtub one morning and suspects that he might be dead.

" 'Woke Up Dead' is a nice complement to our distribution briefcase, and it is a little more appealing to the younger set," said Marie Jacobson, SPTI's executive vp programming and production.

The sci-fi comedy thriller created by John Fascano, now in development, marks an evolution for CAA-repped Electric Farms because it is live-action with limited CGI elements. "Afterworld" is a 2.5-D-animated series, while "Gemini" is live-action with elaborate 3-D animated backgrounds.

"You don't get a chance to invent something in your lifetime as original as this in both business and creative sense," Rogow said about Electric Farm's efforts. "It's not anywhere near as easy as it looks, but we're doing some pretty exciting stuff."


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