Most know that the cornerstone of the South by Southwest Festival is music. But this year's megamedia event may be taking on a new mantle: the place where new media TV folks are coming to meet, greet, and generate new ideas about TV. And even as I type that, it's becoming inordinately clear to my way of thinking that old terms, like "TV" itself, get in the way. There is nothing traditional about how many of these new TV folks are approaching the medium. What is changing is where TV is found, while still banking on the familiarity most have come to love (oh, come on, admit it!).
Look at a few of the new TV folks who have come to SXSW this year: ON Networks, blip.tv, For Your Imagination, Vuguru, Revision3, and Next New Networks. Austin's ON Networks has even gotten a slice of the awards portion of the Festival, when it announces the winner of its first Greenlight Awards, the "industry's first competition to recognize the next great, original and episodic digital series." Finalists were celebrated at a VIP party last Sunday, and the winners were announced at the annual SXSW Film Awards Ceremony on Tuesday (see "SXSW 08 Film Awards" for winners).
There are two categories for the Greenlight Awards: Best Original Digital Series Idea and Best Original Digital Series Production. The finalists for the latter include:
The Bobble Show: Semianimated show where entertainment journalists (who happen to be bobble heads) interview celebrities.
The Guild: A comedy that follows the offline lives of six role-playing-game addicts.
Small Bits of Happiness: A dark comedy about a mom-and-pop suicide-prevention business.
Wingmen: When the men behind a popular radio talk show are forced off the air by the Federal Communications Commission, they decide to launch a dating service, while a documentary crew follows their journey.
Winners and all nominated episodes can be viewed at www.onnetworks.com/greenlight.
Speaking of Out With the Old
Now that we're in the final countdown toward the end of analog TV, what will become of those old consoles, which are said to be full of lead and other bad bits for the environment? Fortunately, e-cycling programs are popping up across the country. I got excited when I saw that Austin-based Axcess Technologies will collect your dead equipment, but they don't take analog TVs or anything that could be described as a "major household appliance." For a list of things they do take, check out their website at www.axcesstech.net/recycling_events.php. Thrift stores will take your analog sets if they're at least 5 years old. So what to do with that old set in your grandma's attic? If you have some great ideas, pass them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worth Checking Out
Writer, journalist, and TV writer and producer David Simon is coming to the University of Texas at Austin to deliver the College of Communication's 2008 William Randolph Hearst Fellow lecture. The creator of several critically acclaimed works (The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street, and The Corner), Simon is now in postproduction on his new HBO miniseries, Generation Kill. The William Randolph Hearst Fellow Award "honors individuals whose distinguished careers in communication make them outstanding role models for students," according to press materials. Simon delivers his Hearst Fellow lecture on Tuesday, March 18, at 6pm at the Austin City Limits studio. While the event is free and open to the public, reservations are recommended. RSVP to Wade Lee at 232-5466, or e-mail email@example.com.
Casting director Jonathan Tanzman is looking for contestants for a new reality series described as a cross between Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Fear Factor (without eating gross things). Selected participants will test their physical and mental mettle in a cross-country series of competitions. Winners receive "a huge cash prize" and that coveted 15 minutes of fame. Contestants must be 18 years old to participate and a legal resident of the United States (you'll have to prove it). Open auditions take place Saturday, March 15, from noon to 5pm at Joe's Bar & Grill at 506 West. You must e-mail Tanzman first to get on the audition list. Send your name, age, phone number, e-mail address, and a recent photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, stay tuned.