Just say "no" to Twitter TV. That's the sentiment of tweets sent Tuesday on Twitter after Reveille and Brillstein Entertainment reported partnering to pitch television executives on a new unscripted series incorporating the microblogging site.
One tweet from Carly Wilson, known as @carlylately from Arizona, joined in the rant by writing "#nottwittertv keep it a Web thing!" Jan Galati, @ jplusgal, writes "#nottwittertv: say no!" And, the Twitter site @No_tweet_show was launched by Ian Former to demonstrate his distaste for the decision.
The negative tweets prompted Twitter co-founder Biz Stone to write a blog post to clarify that Twitter is not making a television show. "Some Hollywood folks are developing something that leverages Twitter and they are extremely enthusiastic as evidenced by all the media hubbub yesterday and today," he writes. "We have little to do with their efforts but we wish them success."
Think scavenger hunt. The show would bring the Web into reality television by relying on Twitter to put players on the trail of celebrities in an interactive format.
Few details on the show's format or when it might hit the air have been made available. Reveille and Brillstein Entertainment plan to take the pitch to TV executives this week, and are trying to keep specifics under wraps. Reveille's credits include "The Office," "Ugly Betty," and "The Tudors," plus reality programs such as "The Biggest Loser" and "American Gladiators." Brillstein Entertainment has done "Real Time with Bill Maher," "The Sopranos," and "According to Jim."
The link between Twitter and television isn't unusual, considering that Biz Stone's and Evan Williams' history takes the two back to video directory Odeo.
Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst, says Twitter is searching for a business model. "If they need to find it in a traditional medium it's certainly better than not having one at all," he says. "Many companies in the new media space are finding monetization opportunities aren't there, so they turn toward traditional media. YouTube is an example."
Google bought YouTube, and has found difficulties in monetizing the site, Verna says -- but progress has been made by tying the site to prime-time TV shows and feature films, traditionally old-world media.
"If you're going the TV route, reality shows produce revenue," Verna says. "Considering Twitter's real-time search model, a reality show would lend itself to the life-streaming type approach."
Christopher Coppola, CEO and executive producer at Christopher R. Coppola Productions, looks at the reality show as an opportunity to mix new media with old. "I see it as a positive because they are admitting Hollywood is changing and they better make some changes themselves or they won't exist anymore," he says. "Hollywood needs to change, because entertainment will become a mixture of old school storytelling and new school technology."
It's like when Warner Bros. made "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, as AOL grew into a new media tool. Coppola believes it is unfortunate that pop culture takes on that persona, "but don't think you can stop it. You have to try and work with it, ride it out and see what happens."
Coppola, whose family includes uncle and director Francis Ford Coppola, and brother and actor Nicolas Cage, believes that studios and television networks need to embrace new media or wither away. He says, "I've asked Francis if he tweets. No, he doesn't -- but sure enough, his company uses it to sell goods."