Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Orders Up a New Bite-Size Show. It's Going to Taste a Lot Like "Talk Soup."

Hulu is a great place to see shows that just ran on TV. Is it a good place to see Internet shows that talk about shows that just ran on TV?

Stay tuned!

Plans are underway for a Hulu-only mini-show slated to run on the video site daily, offering up zippy commentary about TV and pop culture.

Some limited details: The show, which is casting now, will run five minutes an episode Monday through Friday. It’s supposed to offer “a quick and humorous survey of the past 24 hours of Media and pop culture.”

In other words, think of all of the TV shows that do something like this already–pretty much everything that runs on E! and half of what runs on VH-1–and shrink it down to a bite-size Web creation. They’re not reinventing the wheel here.

You can glean a tiny bit more about the show, via a casting call ad, at the bottom of this post. An actress who auditioned last week tells us the sessions were “mobbed.”

(Of course! But note that anyone who does get the gig won’t be hitting the jackpot–$1,000 a week, leave your SAG card at home.)

I’m assuming that “HD Films,” the show’s producer, is the same studio that is already producing “The Jace Hall Show,” a Web show about videogames, which runs on Hulu and other sites. Jace Hall is listed as a producer on this one, too.

Hulu rep Elisa Schreiber declined to discuss the show, telling me via email that “we’re not sharing any details because it’s still in the early stages.”

So why do we care? Because Hulu’s primary purpose in life, for now, is to provide a place for people to watch bona fide TV shows on the Web–and primarily shows from its three broadcast TV owners: News Corp.’s Fox, GE’s NBC and Disney’s ABC. (News Corp. also owns this Web site.)

But it has also been dabbling in Web originals over the past year or so: See “The LXD,” and “If I Can Dream.”

Hulu now has an original show in the works starring Whitney Port (who was on “The Hills,” Google tells me), designed to promote Mattel’s Ken doll (really). And there’s something coming from Ford and the producing team behind “The Amazing Race.”

The through-line behind all of this stuff: Webby takes on reality shows, which are cheap to produce for conventional TV and  even more so on the Web (again, note the union-free note on the casting info below).

Nothing revolutionary, but it does point to an interesting question: At what point does the line between the best Web video and mediocre TV disappear?

No one thinks the Web is going to replace TV at its best–expensive original fare like “Lost” or “Glee,” or big-time events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars. But there’s not that much high-end, original stuff on TV.

And lots and lots of your programming grid is filled with repeats, which the Web can do just fine. And then lots of less exciting, and less expensive, fare like “The Biggest Loser” and the like, which the Web hasn’t done. Yet.

But there’s no reason that it couldn’t. And when and if that starts happening with some frequency, there will be even less reason to keep paying for expensive TV packages….

Here’s the text from the casting notice (click to enlarge):


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus