Peter Kafka

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Big Web Video’s Big Star Is … Anthony Zuiker?

Have you been on TV before? Have you made something that has been on TV before?

Then the big Web video companies would like to talk to you: They’re looking for recognizable names and faces they can bring in front of advertisers, so they can move some of those really big TV dollars over to the Web.

That’s why Google trotted out Anthony Zuiker, the guy behind “CSI,” when it made its first big pitch to marketers back in January. And when Yahoo made its own pitch to advertisers in New York yesterday, it devoted plenty of stage time to … Anthony Zuiker.

Anthony Zuiker? Yep. There were plenty of other famous people on hand for Yahoo’s pitch, too — notably, Katie Couric, who wore some very high, very ambitious heels and totally pulled them off.

But Zuiker got his own solo spotlight, where he got to pitch “Cybergeddon,” a 90-minute sci-fi movie that Yahoo will start showing in 10-minute segments in September.

It’s a fair bet that most of the crowd (and most of you) would have a hard time identifying Zuiker on the street. But he’s the cabbie-turned-writer who created “CSI,” and “CSI” has generated a gazillion dollars for CBS, so the marketing message here is clear: Hey! This guy could do anything he wants, and he wants to make Web video. So pay attention — and pay up, please.

Zuiker hasn’t actually abandoned his TV roots. He has a production deal with ABC, and thinks that some of the Web stuff he’s doing could end up migrating to the biggish screen one day, too. But he’s clearly reveling in the freedom and flexibility that the Web offers — and the stage time, too.

We talked briefly after his presentation yesterday:


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”