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November 22, 1999 2:00 AM
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DAILY NEWS: "Blair Witch" Prequel; iCAST Launch; IFP West Plans

DAILY NEWS: "Blair Witch" Prequel; iCAST Launch; IFP West Plans

by Eugene Hernandez and Maya Churi, with a report from Mark London Williams/Silicon Alley Reporter


>> Artisan OK's New "Blair Witch" Project

Brand-new entertainment outlet ReporterTV.com reported Friday that
Artisan has greenlit a new chapter in the "Blair Witch" story. Set for
release in October of 2000, the film may actually be a prequel, exploring
the 300 year old Blair Witch myth.


Haxan Films' Dan Myrick told ReporterTV that he and Ed Sanchez will co-write the movie -- a director for the project has not been announced. "We are
concerned that the integrity of the franchise is maintained," Myrick told
ReporterTV, "We want some kind of input on who they choose, we hope they
want to maintain what we have created."


Myrick will direct the pilot episode for Haxan's new 13-episode FOX TV
series "Fearsome," he and the Haxan team are also in pre-production on a new
comedy feature called, "Heart of Love."


ReporterTV.com (http://www.reportertv.com) is a new website streaming two entertainment news broadcasts online daily from their studio in Hollywood. The site, headed by Seamus Brodie of BBC Online, launched earlier this month. [Eugene Hernandez]

>> Top Execs Have Left, But iCASTER Still Makes Planned L.A. Debut

"Most people," Bob Geldof once said, "get into bands
for three very simply rock and roll reasons: to get laid, to get
fame, and to get rich." Were he to give that interview today, he
might also want to muse on why so many people are getting into online
music streaming technologies--and whether the music industry as we
know it is really about to be blasted apart. Perhaps the
Sonic/Launch/MP3/MTVi etc. road ahead simply represents a newer,
different blend of "labels" and radio stations for music-makers--and
fans--to negotiate.


Whatever their motivation, putative online rockers--and the
Skechers-wearing start-up CEOs who love them--recently descended on
Century City for the latest edition of Webnoize, the gathering
sponsored by the online music world's own version of "Billboard."


We were there mostly to follow up with iCAST (www.icast.com), which
was dutifully going ahead with the demos of its long-anticipated
"iCASTER" in the wake of the company's headline-grabbing split with
departed execs Neil Braun and Matt Farber.


Did we say "dutifully?" Nay--make that "cheerfully."


Ultimately, says Geoff Miller, senior VP and executive producer for
the site, "We think this is a good thing for us. Margaret Heffernan
[who stepped in as president and COO] has kept our employees focused,
creating what we think is a killer destination."


It being a "good thing" reflects on the unspoken notion that not
everything was rosy between Braun, Farber and the rest of iCAST. The
"killer destination" is, of course, the site itself, which promises
to take the "next step" in community-building by offering multimedia
webpages and, eventually, micropayment commerce between constituents.
Create your own 25-cent peep show!


"Killer" is also an adjective often strung together with "app," and
while, as a phrase, "killer app" rarely delivers, in this case, iCAST
has a pretty handy virtual device with its long-promised iCASTER.


Think of it as a universal remote for the Web. The program is
completely agnostic as to which streaming technology it uses--it even
looks like a fancy remote, sitting on your desktop.


"But wait!," as the late night ads used to scream. "There's more!"


There's an instant messaging feature, and a bot-like feature that
allows iCASTER to scour around for custom programming--updating audio
streams by discarding defunct ones and grabbing videos--once it
collects enough information to figure out "how you like it."


iCASTER will actually take you straight to the video itself,
circumventing the host website--unless that particular stream is
embedded there. And in the Web's further rehabilitation of the word
"viral," Miller touts the "viral nature" of the device's ability to
send MP3s--"legal ones only!" he stresses--to your "friends" list
with a simple drag 'n drop application.


On the cosmetic front, you can customize the "skin" of your
iCASTER--and, naturally, some co-branded skins are in the works. It's
like a "Swatch," except for the streaming technology.


The iCASTER, along with the iCAST site, is set to debut in January,
although spokesman Bill Golden recently conceded that the
long-delayed launch may slip back yet again.


Currently, Miller allows that there's been some "mending fences" to
do with the recent shakeups in the executive suites. But, overall, he
says--reaching for another out-West metaphor as he sits enjoying the
L.A. sun--"there's been no hitch in our gait at all."


And if the iCASTER is ready for saddling up as promised, they should
continue to clip along. [Mark London Williams]


[This article was originally published in the Silicon Alley Daily.
To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to daily-html-on@sar.infobeat.com, or
visit the website at: http://www.siliconalleyreporter.com.]

>> IFP/West offers new services


IFP/West announced a series of new services they will be offering that
will benefit members of it's filmmaking community. The Los Angeles
based organization will allow members to screen 16mm or 35mm films for
free at Laemmle's Sunset Five theatre on Thursday mornings from 10am to
12pm. This is a good opportunity for local filmmakers, as the cost of
renting a theatre for a screening can take a big chunk out of an
independent's pocket. "It makes no sense for our theatre to be empty
when we are not using it and it seems perfect to offer it to filmmakers
who could really use the screening facilities. We all hope that this
might help get a film acquired, and then one day, they can come back
and eventually open here," said Greg Laemmle of Laemmle Theatres.


The IFP/West has also announced an Equipment Rental Program (making
available digital packages at low costs); IndieLink (A quarterly
gathering of filmmakers and craftspeople); Resident Line Producer
Program
(A free program enabling filmmakers to consult with professional
line producers) and a Filmmaker's Forum (an intimate discussion among
industry professionals). [Maya Churi]


[For more information on IFP/West, call 310-475-4379.]


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