NBC Uni tunes into 'CTRL Z'

Tony Hale to star in web series

NBC Universal Digital Studio is hitting Control Z.

The conglom's digital division is teaming up with Nestea for "CTRL" a new Web series based on Robert Kirbyson's Sundance short "CTRL Z."

"Arrested Development" star Tony Hale toplines the short as well as the series, in which a down-and-out office worker finds he can suddenly read co-workers' minds and influence their behavior.

Kirbyson, currently helming the Chrstopher Lloyd-starring family comedy "Snowmen," will write and direct all of the episodes.

NBC Universal is planning a ten-episode run and will distribute on sites such as NBC.com and Hulu as well as on cable and gaming platforms.

Nestea, which was not involved in the initial short, is helping to finance the Web series in exchange for significant brand exposure. In the original short, for example, Hale's character attains his power through a generic broken keyboard, but in the Web series that keyboard is broken when Nestea is spilled on it.

The collaboration is an example not only of branded entertainment but of indie filmmakers' increasing resourcefulness in seeking alternative means of financing. Several documentary directors, for instance, have been in discussions with well-known brands for deals that would exchange relevant product placement for monetary support.