Friday, March 30, 2007

Break out your Alphaville CD: It's time for PromQueen

Or drink warm Zima.  Take your pick.

PromQueen is a new internet video series produced by the folks who brought us SamHas7Friends. But this time, instead of producing a very slick show for only $50,000 -- they are backed by Michael Eisner, former Disney head honcho, and his new internet-video venture "Vuguru." (By the way, don't you love names like this -- you know some marketing dude dreamed that up. "It like 'guru', and 'vu' like 'views'! Ka-ching! Success is inevitable!").

The show is set to debut on April 2, but press releases yesterday hint that episodes will debut about 12 hours earlier on the show's myspace. So set your clock for 7pm ET (GMT -4) on April 1. And its not like it will take up a bunch of your time. Like SamHas7Friends, PromQueen will run for 80 episodes of 90 seconds each. It's an intriguing format that is perfect for today's ADD teens and average internet viewers. Adding some interactivity, each of the characters already have their own myspaces, ready to befriend you. I mean, who doesn't want to be "top friends" with lead PQ babe "Nikki"? Who cares if you're a 45-year old inmate and its illegal to be her Myspace friend.

In short, PromQueen is the first big-budget attempt to recreate lonelygirl15's success. That's a big deal. But the camera shots will be more like traditional TV; this is not a fictional vlogging experiment like Lonelygirl15. In fact, Eisner seems irritated by that knee-jerk press analogy. From a Wired interview:

WN: OK, then, how close is it to Lonelygirl15?

Eisner: (exasperated sigh) It isn't close to that at all -- that's one person talking into the camera. This is a story-driven, character-driven emotional mystery.

WN: You really balked at the comparison to Lonelygirl. Why?

Michael Eisner: Hey, I balk at any comparison to anything. It's creative content -- saying that it's like something is usually the kiss of death. I never even thought of either of those two (shows). Really, that's the first I've heard of a similarity with the two. Prom Queen is like what it is.

Profound, Eisner. We won't compare it Family Ties, either. So, tune in. Let's see whether this thing flies. They already got sponsors and product placements it appears. All they need is Alphaville's "Forever Young" playing and some warm Zima, and they got it made.

P.S. If you want to discuss PromQueen in depth as it unfolds (and who doesn't yearn to be an internet video analyst a la Chuck Klosterman, who has spent more time deconstructing Saved By The Bell than any person alive), be sure to check out the Anchor Cove forums. The show will also have its own official forum up in a few days.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Brotherhood 2.0: Unholy Child of NPR and YouTube

The new TheHill88, or the new Robert Siegel and Michele Norris?

Brotherhood 2.0 just may be the most entertaining vlogging experiment of all time. On December 31, 2006, Brothers John Green (an award-winning author of young-adult novels) and Hank Green (head of took a pledge (perhaps written in blood, but I am not sure about that) to cease all text-based communication for the year 2007. Instead, they have been posting videoblogs daily, trading off each weekday. And if a brother fails to meet his daily posting obligation, or forgetfully writes to the other brother (as John heinously did done once by way of a cc email), some sort of crazy punishment is imposed.

The results are entertaining, often quite funny, and always intelligent. While vlogging is not new, the Brothers Green infuse it with new life. They take the vlogging format--something primarily developed and defined by the youth culture at youtube---and combine it with the intelligence and rigor of your typical NPR (National Public Radio in the U.S.) All Things Considered fare. Yes, its the unholy child of NPR and YouTube, and its great.

Here's a random episode, where on February 21, 2007, John compares M.T. Anderson's novel Feed to the concept of having a whole Wikipedia in your brain.

All the videos (and most of the comments by the audience) are available at, as well as on their Vlogbrothers channel at YouTube.

The popularity of the series has already inspired Brotherhood2.0 fan and notable YouTuber Terryfic to create a tribute video to the show in the style of the opening credits of an 80's sitcom. If that doesn't intrigue you to start watching, I don't know what will.