Sony retools classics for Web


Sony is breathing new life into such TV series as "T.J. Hooker" and "Starsky & Hutch" by retooling full-length episodes from its classic television library into "minisodes" for the Web.

The minishows — which will range from 31/2 to five minutes in length and include a complete story arc, albeit condensed — initially will be available on the Minisode Network, Sony's ad-supported Internet-based service scheduled to launch in early summer on MySpace. From there, the episodes are expected to reach other outlets on the Web and eventually the mobile platform.

The studio is seeking to capitalize on its vast library of TV assets and accompanying copyrights while catering to a newer generation of digitally entrenched viewers with a shrinking attention span.

"We looked at our library and asked how we could fit this content into where the world is going in terms of watching entertainment on the Web," Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko said. "We thought this was the way to apply that logic of YouTube viewing to scripted drama that is fun and interesting."

Besides "Hooker" and "Starsky," more than 300 minisodes already have been produced from such shows as "Charlie's Angels," "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Facts of Life," "What's Happening," "Whose the Boss," "The Partridge Family," "Silver Spoons," "Sheena," "V.I.P.," "Police Woman," "Dilbert," "Ricki Lake" and "Fantasy Island."

Mosko said the bite-size versions of the full episodes are not meant to replace the traditional series but merely serve as a way to adapt the content from Sony's library of 16,000 TV episodes to the Internet and mobile business.

"They're meant to be fun and campy," Mosko said. "They've actually brought more attention to these classic shows than they've gotten in a long time."