Microsoft Network picks up MGM Interactive's original on-line show ''Paul Is Dead''; deal underscores MGM's commitment to on-line programming.
Billed as an on-line ``rock 'n' roll murder mystery,'' ``Paul Is Dead'' is directed by John Sanborn and written by Michael Kaplan, both of LaFong, which specializes in creating immersive entertainment for new technologies. MGM Interactive's Ken Locker will executive- produce the project.
MGM Interactive's Ron Frankel, executive vice president and general manager, said that ``Paul Is Dead'' is one of about six original on-line programs that the division has in development and that establishing relationships with key industry leaders like MSN is central to MGM's on-line strategy.
As with its platform gaming products, MGM Interactive is utilizing the studio model for its on-line content development, providing resources, creative consultation, project management, and talent and distributor relationships.
``MSN is helping to establish the Internet as a mass-market entertainment vehicle where viewer interaction and on-line communities bring entertainment to new heights,'' said Frankel. ``MGM Interactive is actively pursuing entertainment properties and relationships with companies such as LaFong to deliver innovative new programming to the Web and other media.''
``Our relationship with MGM Interactive will further strengthen the innovative programming we offer MSN members,'' said Scott Schaefer, MSN's producer for the new show. ``We look forward to delivering a cool new way for members to participate in a murder mystery '90s-style and to build a community experience around their interest in the story line.''
``We're excited by the challenge of telling stories on-line in a way that will draw a community of viewers into the experience,'' said Kaplan, co-founder of LaFong. ``MGM has demonstrated the most ambitious plan for on-line development of all the studios.
``MSN is dedicated to experimenting with, and defining, what on-line entertainment and community building can be. Together, they've provided us with a great opportunity to try something that has never been done before.''
According to many leading market-research firms, the number of active Internet users hovers around 31 million people, with 49 percent of adult Web users logging on daily, according to Find/SVP's 1997 American Internet User Survey.
``It wasn't until the entertainment industry entered television programming in the 1950s that it became a mass medium,'' said Locker.
``Now that major entertainment brands like MGM are producing content, the same shift will take place with the Internet. The real difference is that in Internet entertainment, the creators define the context, but it's the users who create the content by the way they interact with the story.''
LaFong was formed in 1995 by Kaplan and Sanborn as a creative partnership committed to writing, directing and producing the next level of interactive content for new technologies. As members of MediaBand, they created the structure and interlocking scenarios for ``Undo Me,'' an interactive music video, and helped develop ``Psychic Detective,'' an award-winning interactive movie.
The company also created the Web site for Marimba and currently is developing original content using Castanet technology.
MGM Interactive, a unit of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., manages creative development and production of interactive products for a variety of multimedia platforms, as well as talent and developer relationships. In 1996, MGM Interactive released the critically acclaimed ``The Ultimate James Bond: An Interactive Dossier'' and ``Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Adventure in Tinker Town.''
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is actively engaged in the worldwide production and distribution of entertainment product, including motion pictures, television programming, home video, interactive software, music, licensed merchandise, a 1,600-title film library, a 4,500-title home-video library and a significant television library.
The company's operating units include MGM Pictures, United Artists Pictures, MGM Worldwide Television, MGM Telecommunications Group, MGM Distribution Co., MGM Home Entertainment and Consumer Products Group, MGM Music and MGM Interactive, among others. For more information on MGM, visit The Lion's Den at http://www.mgm.com .
CONTACT: Faiola Davis Public Relations, Los Angeles
Heidi Davis or Eric Lindbom, 213/933-4959