By Jennifer LeClaire / Top Tech News. Updated September 13, 2007.
What do you get when you cross the producers of hit shows like Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life with MySpace? The answer is Quarterlife, a new online series from Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick.
Beyond My So-Called Life and Thirtysomething, the dynamic duo produced Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond. Now, they'll try their hand at Web television with the launch of the Quarterlife series on MySpace TV on November 11. The initiative marks the first time a network-quality series will be produced specifically for the Internet.
"This is the most exciting project I've worked on in a very long time, and part of that is the level of creative autonomy we can have on the Internet. For better or worse, Quarterlife is truly our own vision," Herskovitz said in a statement.
Zwick echoed his production partner's comments, noting that the business of television today makes it harder for the individual filmmaker's voice to be heard. "That voice," he said, "has been our calling card for over 20 years, and working with MySpace gives us a chance to speak it."
What's Quarterlife About?
The Quarterlife series tells the ongoing stories of six creative people in their 20s. Much like Herskovitz's and Zwick's previous television projects, the team's commitment to realism and human themes through the depiction of the way young people speak, work, think, love, argue, and express themselves is at the center of Quarterlife.
The central character is Dylan, a young woman whose overly truthful video blog spills the closest secrets of her friends, and the show's characters -- filmmakers Danny and Jed, actress-bartender Lisa, geek-extraordinaire Andy, and still-tied-to-her-parents Debra -- chart the experiences that comprise coming of age as a part of the digital generation.
MySpace TV is the exclusive international distribution partner for the series. The social-networking portal will offer a Quarterlife video channel and MySpace profile page to spotlight exclusive series content, including character profiles, behind-the-scenes video, and storyline secrets.
"When Emmy award-winning producers come to MySpace TV -- you know this is reaching a whole new level," MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said in a statement. "We're proud to offer the creative community a blank canvas and open platform to express their vision."
A Familiar Scenario
Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, called the deal "significant." "I have enough gray hair that I can remember when cable TV started offering shows. Originally when cable TV started broadcasting original programming, the shows weren't all that great, but now cable TV has big successes, like the Discovery Channel, A&E, and MTV," he said. "In a sense, we've seen this movie before. It's the beginning of professional Internet programming coming of age."
Of course, network and cable TV broadcasters aren't likely to rest on their laurels and watch this "coming of age" eat into their viewing audiences. Although analysts see Web television as an inevitability, the main barrier to mainstreaming high-quality episodic shows produced specifically for the Internet are incumbent interests lobbying Congress to slow the momentum.
"Typically when established industries can't compete against new industries, they lobby Congress to strangle the new industries," Leigh said. "Ghandi put it very well. He said, 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.'"