Remini starring in 'Motherhood' webisodes

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NEW YORK -- Leah Remini of "The King of Queens" will star in a new Web series about motherhood that will incorporate consumer-generated stories from moms into each episode.

Created by Mindshare Entertainment in partnership with its advertiser clients Suave and Sprint, the series will air on MSN and be heavily promoted on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" as part of an innovative 10-week integration deal.

The five-episode series "In the Motherhood" is being directed by Peter Lauer, whose credits include "Malcolm in the Middle," "Arrested Development" and "Chappelle's Show." The series, which profiles the "ever-hectic but always humorous" lives of three mom girlfriends, will premiere May 11 with a Mother's Day episode at www.inthemotherhood.com, a site being hosted on MSN.

"We believe this is a groundbreaking series," said David Lang, managing partner for MindShare Entertainment, who conceived of the series and the unusual partnership between two very different brands -- Suave and Sprint -- that are both interested in marketing to mothers. "For the first time ever we are marrying consumer-generated stories with professional screenwriters and top-name talent to create an online comedy series that is activated in a 360-degree fashion. I think we're really taking consumer-generated content and consumer-generated interactivity to a whole new level."

Hollywood screenwriters will develop the characters and story lines for each episode of "Motherhood," based on the stories voted the best entries at the site. Online visitors will be asked to submit their experiences on such topics as "your child's worst public meltdown, your child's funniest potty training story and your funniest mother-in-law child-rearing advice."

Mindshare, Suave and Sprint hope the series will help build an online community of moms. "With 'In the Motherhood,' we want to give moms a real community where they can not only share in the trials and tribulations and joys of being mothers but also just make them smile and hopefully laugh at the everyday truths of their lives," said Sarah Jensen, director of Unilever Hair Care -- Suave's parent company.

The site, which launched Tuesday, will offer games, blogging and peer-to-peer conversation and serve as a platform for marketing campaigns from Sprint and Suave, with banner ads and links to the companies' Web sites.

" 'In the Motherhood' is a great campaign because it complements what Sprint and Suave can offer women in a forum that celebrates their mutual experiences in a fun and interactive way," Sprint vp marketing Anita Newton said.

In addition to MSN, the webisodes can be viewed on Suave.com and Sprint TV, which allows mobile access to the content on Sprint Power Vision phones. On broadcast TV, "Motherhood" will be publicized, and clips or whole episodes -- which run about five minutes long -- will air on "Ellen" as part of an overall integration deal with the hit syndicated talk show. "People talk about achieving distribution on all three screens," Lang said. "We're doing it, and we're very proud of that."

While advertisers' products are frequently integrated into TV programs, it is unusual for a brand's own original content to be the focus of an integration deal. As part of the agreement, "Ellen" will promote engagement with the show, including calling on moms to submit their real-life stories and to vote on the best entries, throughout the campaign, which runs through June. As is the case in most TV integration deals, Suave and Sprint have purchased commercial time during "Ellen." Their products will be subtly integrated into the new Web series, Lang said.

In addition to "Ellen," "Motherhood" hopes to generate traffic through online media buys, viral marketing and ads in "People" magazine.

Remini, who stars in the show, is best known for her role as Carrie Heffernan in CBS' comedy series "The King of Queens," which ends its nine-year run this year. "We are thrilled to have Leah starring in our webisodes," Lang said. "She is such a great comedic talent."
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