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Twitter Hits Hollywood: Users Stalk Stars in Unscripted Show


Writer Amy Ephron

Microblogging label Twitter is partnering with Reveille and Brillstein Entertainment to launch an unscripted TV show whose objective will be to "[put] ordinary people on the trail of celebrities in a revolutionary competitive format," reports Variety.

Novelist and screenwriter Amy Ephron will executive produce the show alongside Kevin Foxe and Steve Latham, Reveille's Mark Koops and Howard T. Owens, Brillstein's Jon Liebman and Lee Kernis. Liebman says the effort will prove "a compelling way to bring the immediacy of Twitter to life on TV."

ShineReveille International will represent worldwide rights to the show.

According to Knowledge Networks, about 83% of the online US population is using or has used Twitter or some other microblogging/instant updating service. Over half of them do so on a regular basis. But Twitter — whose founders have been reticent to incorporate third party advertising into the site — has yet to develop a viable business model to support its tremendous growth (1382% year over year, as of February 2009).

Marketers have increasingly begun incorporating Twitter features into their advertising, however. Earlier this month Skittles.com stripped its website down to the bare minimum of social features, with a homepage that, for at least 24 hours, pointed directly to real-time mentions of "skittles" on Twitter's search engine. Volvo and Land Rover also began incorporating tweets into their banner and outdoor advertising.

Twitter's flirtation with Tinseltown also indicates traditional media's growing faith in its staying power. In the past, members of the Hollywood elite partnered with hype-ridden online services to reinforce their dominance with premium content across new media.

For example, Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg's Katalyst Media launched a show called KatalystHQ earlier this year. Developed with Facebook's audience in mind, it was distributed through Slide's FunSpace, one of Facebook's top five downloadable apps. Late last year, V Cast began syndicating Sorority Forever, a web series propagated by WB.com; HBO poached a number of "stars" that won celebrity on YouTube to develop a cameo-rich web series called Hooking Up; and, last month, Sprite debuted Green Eyed World, a show about young pop stars that appears on both YouTube and Facebook.

Whether or not Twitter's first-ever unscripted show proves successful, premium content liaisons that increasingly incorporate Twitter will likely become a media preoccupation over the next year.

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