ON Networks' Proper Ollie
On Networks' 'Proper Ollie'
It seems paradoxical: Find out everything you're doing wrong with your cell phone while in public through a series that can be broadcast on your cell phone? That's like a television series called The Cerebral Damage Brought on by Watching TV. Nonetheless, "Cellphone Etiquette" is the first episode of Proper Ollie, viewable online as well as via iPod and cell phone. And its running time is less than five minutes.
"Nobody is really sure how this new media is going to take off," says Proper Ollie creator Devin Moss. "We're making it so you can learn how to do something in a crunch when you don't have time to surf the net."
What Moss is sure of is his take on this country's manners, or lack thereof, and that his show can help. His first venture into the Internet market is a fast-track integration of courtesy and comedy, wherein an angular metrosexual with a British accent briefs the audience on social skills in everyday life with a dry, slightly sarcastic approach.
"I was doing a pilot that we were going to pitch to the Food Network a year and a half ago," Moss says. "It was on sushi, and I was amazed about how much I didn't know about sushi etiquette. A friend of mine showed me a three-minute Japanese sushi commercial, and it was way over the top. That's how I got the idea for a show about manners."
After selling the rights to ON Networks, where Proper Ollie can be viewed along with other series at www.onnetworks.com, Moss and his Austin-based company, Echo-5 Mike, now produce it here.
"We'd like to capitalize on all the markets for short distribution," he says. "We keep it as short as possible, so they can be squeezed in just about anywhere."
Naturally, a new type of entertainment raises all kinds of questions. Is the world ready for commercial-sized sitcoms? Which form will take off with it first – handhelds or laptops? Has America's attention span really shortened from a typical 30-minute episode length to a mere five?
"There's a lot of buzz and money going into it, but we don't have that data as to whether it has a market yet," Moss says. "The trick is to be very careful about not preaching and deliver it in a comedic format. No one has done this before, so in a way, we're creating the market."