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Writers strike out on their own with a website

Writers strike out on their own with a website

Striking writer Peter Hyoguchi was walking the picket line outside Disney's ABC Studios in Burbank, Calif., in January when he had an epiphany.
What if scriptwriters launched a website featuring their work, which they would own and control free of studio interference? That hunch is about to be tested. After months of planning and delay, Hyoguchi and his colleagues have turned their seemingly quixotic idea into a reality. Two weeks ago, they launched an online "network" for original programming named Strike.TV.
It marks an ambitious effort to connect film and TV writers to the fledgling world of online video. The portal will run 45 original web series with more than 200 episodes from such veteran writers as Lester Lewis, a producer on "The Office," and Ken LaZebnik, a "Star Trek: Enterprise" scribe.
Shows include actors Timothy Dalton and JoBeth Williams. Episodes are mostly three to five minutes and roll out daily on Strike.TV, and they also are available on YouTube and Joost. The Los Angeles company just signed an agreement with Hulu, an online video service backed by NBC, FOX, and other networks, to become its largest supplier of web-original entertainment. Programming encompasses horror, drama, sci-fi, animation, soaps, and comedy.
"The Challenge," for example, stars Bob Newhart trying to do "what many people think is one of the most difficult tasks in modern society - opening a new DVD."
Behind the company's project is a decidedly entrepreneurial idea that writers should be able to cash in on the Internet. "We were striking mostly over Internet issues, and yet none of us knew anything about the Internet. So we thought, 'Why not just try it ourselves and see what it's all about?" says Lewis, one of Strike.TV's founders.
Strike.TV is a combination of altruism and capitalism. The writers and actors involved have volunteered their time and money to get the venture off the ground. For the first three months of operation, the company will donate proceeds from advertising to the Actors Fund, which assists entertainment industry workers. After that, and if it succeeds, the principals will share in future advertising revenue.