Yahoo is announcing a deal to bring its first original scripted “series” to the online content producer and they are using a pretty big name, Tom Hanks, to make the splash.
Fresh off a new CEO hire, Scott Thompson, that everyone is at least curious about since he isn’t from the same space as Yahoo claims to be in, the beleaguered online traffic giant (even with all the screw ups!) is branching out in a big way. As the AP reports
Tom Hanks’ long gestating Web series is coming to Yahoo.
“Electric City,” an animated futuristic series Hanks has been developing for years, will premiere on Yahoo this spring. The series includes 20 episodes, each three- or four-minutes long.
Yahoo, along with Hanks and production partners Playtone and Reliance Entertainment, are set to formally announce plans for the series Tuesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
For Hanks, the release of “Electric City” caps the actor’s efforts to find the right avenue for the project. He first tried to make the series using puppets. He earlier announced it would be released in early 2011.
The series will only total around 90 minutes or so in 20 3 to 5 minute episodes. It’s set in a post apocalyptic city as well but the actual nature of the content isn’t the story. It’s the attempt by Yahoo to redefine itself and to get away from what everyone seems to want it to be. What is that you ask? A failed old school Internet giant that was a search engine but now isn’t even though it’s not sure what it is.
The name of the Internet game is original content. Content draws visitors which make advertisers happy who pay to be part of the viewing experience. Not exactly rocket science but it is also not as easy as it sounds. Yahoo stands to get some serious press by hitching its wagon to the likes of Tom Hanks. Sure he’s not the same name he was even a few short years ago but he has been a behind the scenes force in some of the best series on cable (Band of Brothers and The Pacific) in recent times. He has ridiculously deep pockets and he has ideas. The trouble has been that no one quite knew what to do with a project like “Electric CIty”.
What better way, if you are Yahoo, to inject some “cool” back into your name when you have projects like this brewing.
To be sure I am not saying this will be a hit. What it does show though is that Yahoo is trying to break out of the restraints of ifs current reputation to build another in the new Internet space. Despite all the trashing I have done of the company in the past I am rooting for them here. Why? This isn’t them trying to be something they used to be but rather being something they can be. That’s a good story.