Eric Johnson

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Now Appearing on Google+: Abraham Lincoln and Steven Spielberg

Civil War cinephiles will get a nice present later today, when the first full trailer for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” debuts on Google+, followed by a live video chat with Spielberg and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a Google Hangout.

The high-profile duo aren’t the first to visit Google+, but the company is taking their arrival very seriously. The video teasing their chat prominently features Google Play branding, and video of the Hangout will be broadcast live on ABC’s Times Square Jumbotron (ugh, fine, it’s technically called the “Supersign”). That’s a first for any of the site’s publicly watchable “Hangouts On Air.”

Google declined to disclose the details of the partnership between themselves and Disney (owner of “Lincoln” distributor Touchstone Pictures), but said the Hangout was an “afterthought” to the original plan of just debuting the first trailer on YouTube.

(Update: the Google spokesperson interviewed for this story says the word “afterthought” was incorrect, noting that “part of the appeal of exclusively premiering the trailer on Google Play, was the ability to also promote the trailer in a hangout”).

Layering on top of the seeming identity crisis: The video chat isn’t exactly of the people, by the people, for the people. It will be moderated by Google’s Steve Grove, and only three participants will be able to ask questions of Spielberg and Gordon-Levitt — and they have to have uploaded their own videos about “Lincoln” to YouTube and shared the event listing with their Google+ circles.

Still, it will be interesting to see if and how the association with one of the most-anticipated movies of the year will affect Google+’s image. Even without A-list celebrities on board, Hangouts are a nifty (but not so popular) distinguishing feature of the search leader’s social network.

Here’s a look at the aforementioned teaser video for the full trailer (and the Hangout), which will debut at 4 pm PT:


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google