After Lonelygirl15 you kind of figured the online video hijacking stratagem had played out, to everyone’s amusement.
Did viewers really mind all that much that the bedroom vlogger was an actress, playing out her little dramas in front of the writer and producer?
With Lonelygirl15, it was like going to the carnival and finding out the snakeman wasn’t really a reptile, just some weird guy with some scales stuck to his scalp. Sometimes it’s fun to be a sucker.
Now comes news that “Quarterlife,” the webisode series from “thirtysomething” creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, actually is going on the air — picked up by NBC. Imagine that. How handy that the chapters in each episode add up to the same time occupied by an hourlong network show. And because of the way “Quarterlife” was produced outside the studio system, it appears to be “strike safe” to air.
Yes, this could be a case of serendipity. If the networks turned to the bustling world of Web video looking for replacement material, no doubt the project had a giant neon sign attached to it. Nothing produced so far for the Internet can compete with “Quarterlife” quality-wise. And since the trusted brand of Herskovitz &Zwick made the show as independents, the pickup seems a no-brainer.
But then there’s this: “quarterlife” debuted on MySpace a week ago. The deal with NBC Universal “had been finalized before the (writers) strike” started Nov. 5, The L.A. Times reported.
Herskovitz told the paper the network deal hadn’t been announced partly because no time slot had been set aside. This apparently more important than coming clean to the fawning media that the show was no longer a Web-only property. The Times noted yesterday that ” ‘Quarterlife’ has benefited from reams of favorable press coverage as a pioneer of quality drama on the Web.”
And so at least a week passed with “Quarterlife” headed for the bigs while its makers claimed or implied cool Internet-only status.
The L.A. Times published a curtain-raising story a week ago that made no mention of a network deal or the possibility of one. That Times story of Nov. 11 had this exchange about a sneak preview at USC:
After the screening — which previewed the first hour of “Quarterlife,” in eight-minute segments — audience member Frank Chindamo, an adjunct lecturer at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, asked Herskovitz a simple question:
”To me it looked exactly like an hour of TV with six commercial breaks in it,” Chindamo said. “Did you do that on purpose?”
Herskovitz didn’t hesitate.
”You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” he said.
”I don’t know how to create real emotion in less than an hour — I know how to do it in two hours, I know how to do it in an hour — I don’t know how to do it in a half-hour, and I really don’t know how to do it in eight minutes. So we made a decision to stick with what we know.”
There are several layers of uncharitable interpretation available here; connect the dots according to your level of cynicism.
Two decades in the Hollywood trades tells me the snake man is alive and well and vlogging away.