The Comcast RealCityTV shows debuted today on Comcast On Demand, with 25 different shows, most reality based and in two to 12 minute snippets.
The most notable is former 99X host Steve Barnes’ “High Rise,” a drama set at the Terminus building in Atlanta. It’s going to air in Internet-friendly five-minute snippets over 20 episodes. The first two episodes are available.
It opens with a married couple in bed, screenwriter Marcus (Rob Pralgo) and Elizabeth (Cynthia Evans). He’s a playa who refuses to grow up while she wants to settle down more.
Scene two is local singer Shawn Mullins (”Lullaby”) in the Terminus bar playing a struggling bartender/musician, strumming a tune he wrote for the show. Barnes plays a smarmy attorney who may or may not help Mullins’ career. Reese (Heather Smith) arrives on the scene, ready to shake things up. End of episode one.
Episode two starts with Reese trying to explain why she left New York and came back to Atlanta to Marcus and her sister Elizabeth. Reese is worried about her sister, who isn’t being very open about her circumstances.
Scene two: Ad man and Terminus tenant Paul (Greg Corbett) talks with the busybody concierge Colin (Bryan Brendle). Then he suddenly shows Colin an ad he supposedly made for Airtran. You watch the ad. Not very subtle in-show promotion, there! Paul is curious about the hot newcomer Reese. Final scene: Reese is looking at a picture of a family on her laptop and is disturbed. End of episode two.
Two new episodes will air a week over the next 10 weeks.
“You have to make something engaging happen in five minutes and there’s some sort of cliffhanging element at the end of each episode,” said Mike Stiles, a screenwriter and former morning show producer for Star 94. “I thought the production quality was absolutely incredible.” He thought it came out better than his original hopes, considering it was done by a first-time director.
Despite the time constraints, the show has chosen to go without a narrator, which might have helped save time and provide context, especially since there are seven core characters, some who barely get any airtime any given five-minute episode.
Barnes said that he considered a narrator and they even wrote up some words for the concierge character to say, but he felt that was “spoonfeeding” the audience too much. He said after the first six episodes, which includes a lot of set up, the action starts moving. He also said he’s tested the first 15 episodes with select audiences and “they’re laughing in all the right places. And they’ve gotten into the stories as we hoped they would.”
The production costs were covered significantly by advertisers such as Verizon and Macy’s (thus, the insertion of that Airtran ad.)
You can see it at www.highrisetheseries.com online.
-Educator and talk-show host Michael Eric Dyson, after a brief stint as a syndicated host for Radio One and heard locally on Grown Folks 102.5, has found a new home at 91.9/WCLK-FM starting April 6 from 6 to 7 p.m. He will do “newsmaker” interviews and talk about issues of the day, from politics to religion. His first guest next Monday: Oprah Winfrey.
“I feel this opportunity with public radio suits me just fine,” said Dyson in an interview today. As a cerebral academic, Dyson seems like a good fit with public radio. Yet he is a pop culture fan. At Georgetown last fall, he taught a class on hip hop culture.
From his first stint at Radio One as a radio host, he said he learned “that I love doing this. And this is an extension of my work in other spheres, whether it’s TV like the Bill Maher show [on HBO] or publishing a book.”
For now, the show is one hour a night but he hopes to eventually go two hours so he’ll have time to take calls from listeners.
So how did he get Oprah? “A lot of begging, brother!” he joked. More seriously, he said, she’s “a dear friend. It’s an opportunity to talk to the empress of the media universe.” He also plans to talk to the likes of Donna Brazell, Spike Lee, Hill Harper and Samuel L. Jackson.
He’s looking forward to talking for longer periods of time than in commercial radio since he’ll have fewer breaks: “This facilitates greater depth of conversation.”
The girl is named Satyana Denisof and was born March 24 in Los Angeles, which also happens to be Hannigan’s birthday. “They’re very excited, and mom and baby are doing great,” says the rep.
-America’s top female radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger (heard locally on WCFO-AM/1160) invites moms and their families to celebrate Mother’s Day early this year as she will air a live in-theater event called “Dr. Laura Live! In Praise of Mom,” in more than 450 movie theaters nationwide, including 8 local area theaters in Atlanta, Lawrenceville, Morrow, Kennesaw, Lithonia, Fayetteville, Chamblee and Alpharetta.
On Tuesday, May 5th at 8:00 pm, simulcast from the Irvine Barclay Theatre on the University of California, Irvine campus, Dr. Laura will recount her own life as a career woman turned stay-at-home mom showing her journey from mis-conception to conception to birth to the joys and horrors of parenting during this live stage show. More info at www.FathomEvents.com
-Griff, formerly of Hot 107.9’s morning show, was on Q100 as part of a dating panel giving advice to listeners Tuesday. And Scott Ferrall, who was briefly on Atlanta talk radio at Real Radio 105.3 in 2004 and is now on Howard Stern’s Sirius channel, is also doing regular sports updates for the Regular Guys.