MSN, Reveille launch Web 'Debate'

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NEW YORK -- MSN and Reveille on Monday debuted "The Big Debate," the first original series to emerge from their partnership, which was announced in May.

The daily show, described as a "pop culture version of 'Crossfire,' " is the first of 10 shows that the Microsoft-owned Web portal and Reveille, the producers of "The Office" and "Ugly Betty" among other shows, will produce together.

"Debate," sponsored exclusively by Cingular, will run between two and three minutes and will feature a moderator and two debaters -- comics and improv veterans who will discuss contentious pop culture topics and take questions and comments from viewers, who are encouraged to send them to the site throughout the day.

"This really fits into our broader entertainment strategy of continuing to invest in great entertainment content that people can actually engage and participate in," said Rob Bennett, general manager of entertainment and video service at MSN. "It's not just focused on a short video segment, but there's actually a deeper experience where people can actually get in there and argue it up themselves."

The first show will focus on the Golden Globe Awards, broadcast Monday on NBC, with comedians Regan Burns, who hosted Spike TV's "Oblivious," and Whitney Cummings, who has appeared on "Punk'd" and "Best Week Ever," tackling the subjects. MSN also will webcast the red carpet proceedings and interviews from the press room backstage during the show.

"This just continues to demonstrate our momentum in working with the Hollywood community," said Bennett.

MSN and Reveille previously collaborated on the Web cooking show "Chef to the Rescue," which debuted in September, but that was described as more of an advertising initiative. Other MSN Web series outside of the Reveille partnership include the LivePlanet collaboration "Fan Club: Reality Baseball," and "Be Jane," a home improvement show for women, both of which debuted in the summer.

Bennett said several other MSN/Reveille shows will start production "very, very soon" and these projects will be announced in the next couple of months.
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