Web TV shows picked up by the networks
The internet is a good medium for writers and performers because they can retain total creative control over their work, but – for the moment – TV is still where the real money is. That’s why the web has become a testing ground for original writing that’s later snapped up by the networks.
The couple behind the excellent The Bachelor spoof, Burning Love, are familiar with this process. Erica Oyama, who writes, and her husband Ken Marino, who stars and directs, previously worked together on the darkly funny web series Childrens Hospital, which was bought by the cable channel Adult Swim in 2009. They’ve now got their second cross-over hit.
After three internet-only seasons, Burning Love premiered on the E! network in February, demonstrating a couple of things: first, great writing will get noticed (the show received a Special Achievement prize at this year’s Webby Awards), and second, having celebrities on board doesn’t hurt (the executive co-producer is Ben Stiller, and guest stars include Jennifer Aniston, Michael Cera and Paul Rudd.)
Lisa Kudrow has also surfed this wave. The Friends star sold her internet show Web Therapy, in which she stars as a self-involved counsellor, to Showtime in 2011; it will be back later this year for a third season, with Steve Carrell, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal as guests.
And we’ll be hearing a lot more soon about Broad City, a web series about young New Yorkers that’s written by its two stars, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. It’s making the jump soon to Comedy Central, with Amy Poehler signed on to produce.
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