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Arts and Entertainment

Kevin Smith, Lisa Kudrow on Future of Online Television Panel

The Future of Online Television panel discussion featured Burnie Burns, Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Smith. (Photo: Christine N. Ziemba)
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On Friday, LAist had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on the Future of Online Television with Kevin Smith (SmodCo, Red State), Lisa Kudrow (Web Therapy), Burnie Burns (Rooster Teeth, Red vs. Blue) and NewTek founder and futurist Tim Jenison. The discussion, moderated by What’s Trending host Shira Lazar and streamed live on the Internets, didn’t come to any earth-shattering conclusions about where online TV will go, but was highly entertaining to watch.

One thing that the panelists agreed on was that all the tech and new media trends doesn’t have much affect on storytelling—that’s still first and foremost to a successful series, no matter the medium.

We slipped Jason Mewes (“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”) a couple questions to ask Smith during the Twitter Q&A session (he was monitoring the feeds). We wanted to know what online shows Smith—who has a hand in online TV, podcasting, television, film and comic books—online programming he watches on a regular basis. His answer was surprising. “I don’t watch, I produce,” he said. The ever-verbose Smith then went onto tell the audience that when he took up smoking pot (at age 38), he promised himself that he wouldn’t sit around, smoke and watch TV all the time. If he were going to smoke out, he told himself he had to be productive.

One of the more interesting cross-media projects he’s working on is a pilot project with FOX television that models itself on new media formats. “They had four or five of us [directors] do these one-act plays essentially,” he said. “Like a six or seven minute sitcom. They called it a short-com.” Networks are using new media as a proving ground for show, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

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Smith, whose SModCo Internet Television sponsored the panel with NewTek (the company who makes the TriCaster), also described himself as a “new-media artist”—someone who includes the audience in the projects. He said the Clerks 3 would be a possibility online, but he’d do it in a book format first, allowing him the chance to include “all the stuff I can’t do in a movie.”

Fellow panelist Lisa Kudrow has a little experience jumping from online TV to the big networks. Her online show Web Therapy, first launched in 2008,before getting picked up by Showtime in 2010. We asked Kudrow after the panel what she's currently watching online. Like Smith, she doesn’t watch a lot of web series either, but did recently watch all House of Cards episodes. (Not in one sitting, though.)

“I loved the story and characters,” she said, but also the entrepreneur, Kudrow’s also waiting to see if the House of Cards business model makes money. She’s also thinking about how the new media models will affect our ever-shortening collective attention spans and patience. She told us how when she checked out the old Upstairs, Downstairs series on Netflix DVD a few years ago, she had no patience for waiting for the next episode. “It was like, ‘I want it now!’”

We think a lot of TV viewers share her pain/impatience—no matter if it's on the networks or online.

Full panel video below: