Four of the winners from the film and video categories at this year's Webby Awards -- and what made them click-through kings.Best Actor: The Ninja, "Ask a Ninja"
Principals: Creators Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine, improv comedians from Los Angeles, and the mysterious "Ninja" of www.askaninja.com
Premise: A tetchy ninja answers fans' questions about net neutrality, miniature golf, barbecue and how those issues relate to the mythical masked warriors. "Everything you know about ninjas is completely wrong," Nichols says.
Payoff: Sarine and Nichols signed a seven-figure advertising deal with Federated Media and a six-figure deal with Crown Publishing for a book due out in 2008. "We wanted to use 'Ask a Ninja' as a calling card, and it has served that purpose and then some," Sarine says.
Best Actress: Jessica Lee Rose
Principals: Rose and creators Miles Beckett, Mesh Flinders, Greg Goodfried
Premise: The group fooled the YouTube community for months with short video diaries of teen "Bree" (played by rookie actress Rose), whose strict religious parents kept her isolated from most normal social contact. The videos are still on YouTube but are now part of www.lonelygirl15.com, too. "You were basically watching someone grow up," Rose says.
Payoff: Rose has landed film and TV roles and says she owes "all of it" to Lonelygirl15.
Best Music/Variety: Cool Hunting Video
Principals: Cool Hunting, a Web site dedicated to "the intersection of art, design, culture and technology," is run by founder and editor Josh Rubin and editors Evan Orensten and Ami Kealoha
Premise: The site (www.coolhunting.com/video) presents a weekly video segment that visits artists' studios to present an inside look at the art scene. "We're really focused on the quality of the pieces," Rubin says.
Payoff: The videos, which average around 75,000 viewers, are available on iTunes, and a few have been picked up by Al Gore's Current TV.
Best Viral (Webby and People's Voice winner): The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments
Principals: Eepybird.com's Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz
Premise: In a homemade video, the lab-coated Grobe and Voltz use a complex system to choreograph the dropping of Mentos into Diet Coke 2-liter bottles, creating a Trevi Fountain effect when the liquid spews out artistically. "It was short and sweet, and there was a happy ending," Voltz says.
Payoff: Posted on a Saturday, the video had CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman" calling on Monday. A new video came out last fall sponsored by Coke, and they're in discussions with cable networks about more wacky experiments. Still, Voltz, a practicing lawyer, drives a car with 103,000 miles on it.
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