Showtime's Digital Litmus Test
Leave it to Showtime to work both sides of the same genre coin (and I mean that in a good way). Staring down the last season of "The L Word," arguably a game-changer in the portrayal of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women on cable television, Showtime announced a few months back a spin-off that would shoot after the final season. The show is created by "L-Word" show runner Ilene Chaiken, who (here is the kicker) will take a storyline from the linear program and extend it into an online series. If Showtime moves, the Webisodes will segue into a new linear series.
Understanding and having experience in this style of genre, Showtime just announced an hour-long project from the iconic master of the comic book world Stan Lee. Yes, you read it right, Stan Lee. The project is based on the book "Hero" and centers around the life of a gay superhero who struggles to hide his secret identities. This ought to be good!
So why is all this newsworthy? Because again, in a time when people are struggling to find entertaining, new and fresh programming on TV, where the recession is hitting some programmers so hard that heads of programming are questioning their very existence (check out Hollywood Reporter's "BBC Drama Threatened By Cutbacks" for evidence of this trend), and networks are bemoaning advertising slumps and announcing cutbacks and taking the safe route, Showtime is showing leadership in development of both digital and linear programming by thinking out of the low-budget, lowbrow box. I guess it is true that those who can, do. Those who can't -- well, you know who you are. Enough said.