Comedy Central, TV Land Surf at TCA

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Pasadena, Calif. -- The Internet crashed the Television Critics Association Tour party here Thursday.

Comedy Central bucked conventional form and previewed several new series from its Motherload broadband-video player during its TCA session Thursday -- the first time Web-based programming has been given such prominent exposure in front of TV critics.

And TV Land will launch a new broadband-video player that will feature full-length episodes of classic television shows such as Star Trek and original TV Land content, TV Land and Nick at Nite president Larry Jones said.

King of Queens creator Michael Weithorn was onstage during Comedy’s morning session talking about his new Motherload show, Baxter & McGuire, one of seven short-form original projects being created for the site, according to Lou Wallach, the network’s senior vice president of original programming.

Wallach said the Motherload broadband player has drawn 50 million streams since it launched in November 2005.

"We are thrilled that Motherload has attracted such an incredible following among viewers and the talent community," he added. "We were one of the first networks to have the foresight to develop and produce original broadband programming, and we are committed to delving further into this expanding medium."

Wallach would not reveal a budget for Motherload content, but he said the network will have as many as 20 original shows on its site by the end of the year. He added that the shows -- which range in length from 2-15 minutes and can feature as many as 10 episodes -- allow both established producers like Weithorn and up-and-coming content developers to get their product in front of thousands of viewers.

"It kind of equalizes the playing field, and anyone who has an idea and the wherewithal to produce these kinds of things can come to us because we're wide open to new ideas," he said.

Wallach added that Motherload's top series -- such as standup-comedy series Live at Gotham and Odd Todd, about the adventures of an unemployed adult -- average around 50,000-100,000 streams per episode.

Motherload shows in development include: Baxter & McGuire, an animated series from Weithorn and actor/dancer Nick Bakay about friendly testicles; Good God, a live-action comedy about God's workplace environment; Judge Fudge, a character spinoff from the network's Drawn Together; Balloonheads, about the exploits of various characters who have balloon for heads; Honesty, about a world where everyone tells the truth; Moonwalk 1986, about the banal conversations of two astronauts on the moon; and Mike Birbiglia's Secret Public Journal, based on comic Birbiglia's blog about life on tour as a comic.

TV Land.com (www.tvland.com) will add a broadband-video player in August as part of a relaunch of the Web site, giving viewers access to video shorts from such classic TV shows as I Love Lucy, Three's Company, All in the Family and Good Times, Jones said.

In addition, the player each month will allow users to view full-length episodes of a featured series, he added. Episodes for TV Land's new original series, I Pity the Fool,starring Mr. T, will be the site's primary focus in October, with Star Trek episodes airingin November and episodes from Marlo Thomas comedy That Girl appearingin December.

The site will also feature retro commercials from such products as Raid, Cracker Jack, Wendy's and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

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