Upfronts 2012: Yahoo Announces New Shows For Katie Couric, Jeff Goldblum, Others

3:45 PM PST 04/25/2012 by Eriq Gardner

The Web giant unveils six new shows targeting men at a New York presentation before ad buyers.

Yahoo on Wednesday announced a new lineup of original programming, including talk shows with Katie Couric and Jeff Goldblum and a new series from the creators of Rock of Ages.

Yahoo made it presentation during the two-week NewFront period in which many online giants roll out their content and meet with potential advertisers in TV-style upfront sessions. The company didn't introduce any major shake-ups in its platform, as AOL did Tuesday, but Yahoo brought star power to its showcase at the Florence Gould Hall Theater in New York, headlined by an appearance by Couric, a video presentation from Tom Hanks and a performance by the Violent Femmes

Couric on May 1 will premiere her web show Katie's Take, a collaboration among Yahoo, ABC News and launch sponsor Poland Spring Water that will feature interviews with experts in the fields of nutrition, parenting and wellness. ABC News president Ben Sherwood was on hand to talk about the show.

The untitled Goldblum talk show, which bows in July, is among six new shows targeted at men. These include Stunt Nation with host Sal Masekela, where viewers will see things like a guy who stuffs 30 tacos in his mouth in 30 seconds; demolition program KaBOOM!, described as "three minutes of man nirvana"; and daily show The MANual, presented as the ultimate guide to rising above masculine mediocrity.

Yahoo, which counts 700 million users, also is greenlighting a new musical "jukebox" comedy from the creators of Rock of Ages, Matthew Weaver and Chris D'Arienzo. The show's working title is Dancing With Myself;  set in the '80s, it  will sport a pop soundtrack from that decade and function as a comedic homage to the after-school TV specials of that era. The show's plot is described as one teen's quest to fit in and find himself, his girl and his passion.

Yahoo also is gearing up for the 2012 presidential election. It's doing a video docu-series, Remake America, that features six families chasing the American Dream and a daily political series, Power Players, that will feature ABC News personalities including George Stephanopoulos, Jake Tapper and Jonathan Karl.

"We're partnering with industry leaders and top Hollywood talent, creating unique, premium experiences for distinct audiences around the world," said Ross Levinsohn, executive vp and head of global media for Yahoo. "By doing so, we create a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to connect with highly engaged and targeted audiences."

Hanks is producing Electric City, a 90-minute sci-fi adventure series that will first stream on Yahoo and is the company's first foray into original scripted programming. Yahoo also is touting another "blockbuster" in development: Cybergeddon, a digital motion picture from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, about the growing threat of cybercrime.

That film is a partnership with Norton by Symantec, and Yahoo is stressing its commitment toward branded entertainment. Ad buyers were told to note the success of The Thread, the company's fashion and style hub that is sponsored by Proctor & Gamble and sttracts more than 3 million unique users a month.

Yahoo recently went through a corporate restructuring, slashing 2,000 jobs. But the company has reported revenue gains that have beaten analyst expectations, with net earnings up 28 percent from the previous period to $296 million in the first quarter. Yahoo has been pushing its online video plans in recent months, recruiting former Fox Broadcasting executive Peter Liguori to its board and touting one content partnership after another, especially in comedy, sports and news.

Others in attendance during Yahoo's NewFront presentation included MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman and Top Chef reality star Fabio Vivani.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner

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