As more and more studios attempt to make programming work online, one success continues to blur the lines between on-air and online entertainment. EQAL, Inc., a production studio whose initial offering on YouTube gained a cult following the likes of which other franchises would dream of, recently launched "Harper's Globe," meant as a companion to the CBS series "Harper's Island."
"lonelygirl15" first premiered online in August 2006 as a series of video blog posts from a girl named Bree, who personable nature helped create a convergence akin to the original broadcast of "War of the Worlds," as leagues of fans flocked to 'lonelygirl15's' YouTube channel, wondering if she was in fact, real? Or rather, was she a viral campaign of some sort? It became such a phenomenon that The New York Times investigated the origins of Bree and outed the series as a hoax.
"We were very fortunate with 'lonelygirl15,' we definitely had good timing," says Miles Beckett, one of the creators of "lonelygirl15," about the initial reaction to the Web series. "It was a period when YouTube was getting really popular, and there were tons of people online because everyone had broadband connections at that point."
Since then, "lonelygirl15" has become a chronicle about females who carry a gene that can be harvested, literally, and used by some as a fountain of youth. Since the conclusion of the original Web series, a sequel has been released, "LG15: The Resistance," which picks up the pieces left over from "lonelygirl15" and twists the plot even further.
"It definitely was, if not the first, one of the first times that a group of people had intentionally set out [to] do a real production online," Miles continues. "When we got all the press for 'lonelygirl15' in 2006, it was definitely at a time when Hollywood wasn't really ready for it yet."
As something of a tipping point, "lonelygirl15" is partially responsible for Hollywood taking notice of the Internet and the possibilities it held for profitability.
This platform proved to be a great starting point for one of the actresses involved with "lonelygirl15," Melanie Merkosky, who now stars in "Harper's Globe," an online series/experiment produced by EQAL and CBS Digital as a way to add more background to the new CBS television series "Harper's Island."
"'Harper's Globe' is about a girl named Robin who has a mysterious past, and she moves to Harper's Island to work for the local newspaper, which is called 'Harper's Globe'," Merkosky explains. "When she starts working there, her job is to upload all of [these] archived newspapers online and create an online community, and while she's doing that, she discovers that there were all these murders that happened on the island several years ago. She starts doing some investigative work to try to figure out what happened, and then things start going crazy again on the island."
The actress is referring to the alleged return of John Wakefield, a serial killer who years ago had struck the Island, which is the cornerstone of the show's plot. As the two stories progress, more secrets and clues about John Wakefield will be revealed.
EQAL and CBS have broken new ground with this project, both business wise and creatively. Recent episodes of "Harper's Globe" have seen the inclusion of members from the cast of "Harper's Island." This continues on the network show, as a recent episode featured Merkosky's 'Robin' character interacting with the shows lead, Abby Mills, portrayed by Elaine Cassidy.
"Harper's Globe" was released four weeks before the premiere of "Harper's Island," which provided a vehicle for people to get interested in a show that they otherwise might not have tuned in for.
"I think that CBS is very, very smart to work with a company like EQAL," Merkosky says. "I think that doing a show like this, where it's intertwined with a network TV show, is a great way to bring two audiences together. Watching stuff on the Internet isn't just about a cat on the treadmill anymore. No discredit to the cat - it's hard to walk on the treadmill!"
"Harper's Globe" may act as an effective gateway into "Harper's Island," but the future of the series is up in the air. The network announced that the show would be a thirteen episode mini series shortly before its premiere, and recently changed its time-slot from 9 PM on Thursdays to 9 PM on Saturdays, a night where shows like NBC's "Crusoe" and "Kings" have gone (likely to be forgotten) this season.
"Harper's Island" can be seen weekly on Saturdays at 9 PM or online at CBS.com. For more information on "Harper's Globe" log on HERE.
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