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NEW YORK — MySpace and Ben Silverman’s Electus have teamed for an original Web series, Jerk All-Stars, that is set to debut next month on the social network.
The first announced content deal between the companies will put the spotlight on an urban dance movement known as Jerk, or Jerkin’, which originated in Los Angeles and during the past year or so has gained popularity nationwide and become a viral Internet hit.
Jerkin’ is particularly popular with teens, who form dance crews and typically sport skinny jeans and bright colored-clothes along with colorful names. The moves not only involve the jerk, in which dancers move their legs in and out, but also ones with such names as the reject, dip, pindrop and SpongeBob.
The original online series, scheduled for 14 episodes of several minutes each, will see Electus, housed at Barry Diller’s IAC, again bring its production work to a distribution platform with a brand serving as sponsor. In this case, Sprite is exclusive sponsor of Jerk All-Stars.
All-Stars might help take the dance movement’s growing popularity to the next level, but it also is Electus’ latest step in establishing itself as a production outfit serving traditional and new-media platforms by bringing together Hollywood, Internet and advertising players.
It already has announced projects with the likes of NBC, ABC, MTV, BET and Yahoo.
MySpace chief revenue officer Nada Stirratt said the News Corp. social network had seen its young audience get active around jerkin’ even before Electus pitched the series in the spring.
“Discovering and being discovered is core to our DNA, as is self-expression,” she said. “We noticed our audience got involved around this. That’s why this is a great project for us.” MySpace’s focus on providing music and other entertainment that its young-skewing users can interact around also makes it a natural fit.
Jerkin’ has gained traction, from YouTube videos that in some cases have reached millions of views to the music industry, particularly since duo New Boyz released the single “You’re a Jerk” last year. One of the New Boyz also is set to star in a comedic coming-of-age movie, The Function, written by Toni Ann Johnson (Step Up 2: The Streets) and produced by Melee Entertainment.
“We are tapping into a real phenomenon and an emerging cultural force,” said Silverman, whose friend, actor-musician Donovan Leitch, brought the idea to Electus. “We thought this project was really cool and culturally relevant and wanted to make it happen because you have to be early with these things.”
From Nov. 1-17, MySpace users can submit their dance crews to be featured on the show. The online community will weigh in, and four All-Stars judges — known talents BB the Jerk, Sabi, Indigo Vanity and Young Ace — as well as a panel of judges from Electus, MySpace and Sprite will pick 10 crews to compete on the weekly show, which premieres Nov. 30.
The first five episodes will chronicle the lives of the judges and shine the spotlight on the movement before five shows that will feature head-to-head elimination competitions.
The winning crew from each episode moves on to the finale.
Stirratt wouldn’t discuss financial aspects but said the project is ideal for a social-media platform because it involves auditions and voting and encourages interaction.
“This wouldn’t be successful if an online portal did it,” she said. “And it is not a lean-back TV experience.”
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