Scribes sign on for brand duty


Branded entertainment production company Science + Fiction has signed deals to co-develop programming with veteran comedy writers Danny Zuker and Tim Kelleher.

According to Science + Fiction CEO Kevin Townsend, the move represents a growing interest among writers to work on branded entertainment projects amid the realization that an increasing amount of programming going forward will be funded by brands.

"We've got a wave of traditional Hollywood writers and producers who over the past year have become aware of the branded programming space and who want to understand what's next," Townsend said. "The vast majority of creatives in Hollywood now know their world is changing, and they see this whole webisode thing going on. They see the production value of what's being produced, they see the level of star that's involved, and they realize that if they don't get on this bus, it's going to run over them."

He added, "What we've been able to do is talk to a lot of highly placed showrunners and writers, people who have had great careers in Hollywood but have seen the business change in the past couple of years, and put deals in place for them to create content within the Science + Fiction family on behalf of our advertiser clients."

Zuker, a former writer on "Just Shoot Me!" and executive producer on "Stacked," said he and writing partner Kelleher are working on developing a number of branded entertainment projects with Science + Fiction, as well as creating a nonbranded comedic Web site for the company.

"It used to be that if you struck out with your material in the TV or movies, you were shit out of luck, but now there's this whole other (online) venue you can exhibit your stuff on and another whole source of funding for programming (brands)," Zuker said. "Shrinking comedy markets and the strike have hastened these types of partnerships for people like myself."

Other writers who have worked on recent projects for Science + Fiction include Jordana Arkin, Allison Gibson, Michael Harbert, Ellen Plummer and Joan Binder Weiss.

Additionally, Science + Fiction has co-produced programming for MindShare Entertainment clients Suave and Sprint with "In the Motherhood," Degree with "The Rookie" and Caress with fairytale webisodes starring Kate Walsh. Science + Fiction's relationship with MindShare is nonexclusive, but it has co-produced many of MindShare's more successful branded entertainment Web projects.

"Science + Fiction is a great creative and production partner for us," said David Lang, president of MindShare Entertainment, North America. "They understand the space of branded entertainment very well and help us produce great content."