Justine Bateman’s FM78.tv Says TV Is Dead

It seems everybody in Hollywood is developing a web show these days, but their approaches provide a study in contrast.

Yesterday Chris and I visited Justine Bateman and her three partners at FM78.tv, a new production company focused exclusively on making content for the web. Armed with revolutionary fever and Bateman’s idea for a show about a family candy company, FM78.tv is currently working to make a top-notch, union-compliant, big-budget television show that’s TV quality but doesn’t live on TV.

The actress, Bateman, most recently of Desperate Housewives but most memorably of Family Ties, is the ringleader of a group that also includes writer and producer Jill Kushner (The Ellen DeGeneres Show), Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Alan Sereboff (Snowblind). The four met on the picket line during the recent writers’ strike and developed the Speechless pro-writer online video campaign.

FM78 wants to make one show and do it well. In contrast, Strike.TV, which originated from the same writers’ strike, is aggregating some 45 shows — in many cases only a pilot — with the thought that, because of the established talent creating the shows an audience will find them on the Internet and they will somehow succeed, either in niche or mainstream fashion (see our interview with Strike.TV, also from yesterday). The four founders of FM78, however, explicitly reject the notion that the web is a farm team for TV, and hope to very soon have FM78 be their only job.

From FM78’s manifesto:

At FM78.tv we also recognize that ALL TV and Film distribution will be through the Internet exclusively in short order. We therefore see no sense in wasting time before getting high-quality, professional content online. We have seen user content and we have seen professionals doing user content, but we are focused on bringing the high level of professional entertainment we have been doing our entire careers straight to the Net.

What the two writer-led companies have in common is the overwhelming desire to rid themselves of “notes” from the network executives who traditionally get a say in the creative process. It’s a common theme here in L.A. and pretty much all anyone can talk about.

We met FM78 at Murrieta’s office in Hollywood yesterday and shot the above video of Bateman, Kushner, Murrieta and Sereboff explaining their project and their upcoming show, Candy Inc, which will feature Bateman, Jeff Garlin, Doug Stanhope and more and will be directed by Steve Pink. They’re also working with the folks behind You Suck at Photoshop for viral promotion. Provided FM78 can finance the series through sponsorship, it is to be released in 18 parts early next year.