Apr 30, 2012

'Long Island Business Report' to debut as special to attract sponsors

WLIW21, a WNET station, is premiering a 30-minute local news show, Long Island Business Report, on Tuesday (May 1) as a special, with the aim of attracting sponsors. “We hope to re-launch in the fall," host Jim Paymar told the Long Island Business News website. "The station is behind the project. It’s a matter of fundraising and getting sponsorships. We’ll be looking for funds from corporations and foundations and individuals who believe in public broadcasting and the type of program we’re doing.” The show is being produced as a collaboration between WLIW and the host's Paymar Communications Group.

In an announcement, the station said the show "continues WLIW21’s commitment to presenting the issues most important to Long Island residents and celebrating the Island’s unique people and places."

Paymar is a veteran business news anchor and correspondent who has worked for CNBC, WABC, WNBC, and BusinessWeek. At CNBC he appeared on Business Center, Power Lunch and Market Wrap. The first episode of the program looks at Long Island’s infrastructure, its rising costs of living and potential for revitalization in downtown areas.

Watch a preview here.

Eaton enjoys choosing shows, and shoes

Rebecca Eaton, e.p. of Masterpiece and the woman who brought the hit Downton Abbey to America, admits she's "pretty addicted" to her job, in a Q&A with (which describes itself as "the homepage for young men the world over obsessed with staying ahead of the curve in the marketplace’s most lucrative leisure pursuits").

In her role, Eaton says, "There’s always a crisis somewhere, and you get the satisfaction of solving the problem. And then, there’s always the mystery of whether a program will work or not, and waiting for the reviews or seeing what the audience figures are."

Eaton also reveals a fairly hands-off approach: Once shows are in production, "my motto is to leave them alone. Once they’re shooting, sometimes I go to the set to visit. When they’re shot, I look at various early cuts and give notes, as I give notes on scripts. ... Hopefully, we broadcast them to great acclaim. And then, I get to buy a new pair of shoes and go to the Emmys. That’s my job."

PBS UK channel 'struggling to find the audience its content deserves'

Ian Burrell, media columnist for The Independent in London, talks with PBS President Paula Kerger, who was in Great Britain to promote the fledgling PBS UK channel that launched last year. The channel "is struggling to find the audience its content deserves," Burrell notes. Richard Kingsbury, PBS UK general manager, "admits that 20,000 is currently considered a good rating — a poor return for the quality of the output."

Concludes Burrell: "PBS cannot compete with the BBC in this country, and nor would it try to, but it does offer a similar hallmark of quality and a welcome new insight into American life."

Diverse array of NEA grants includes Mozilla, BAVC, multiplatform 'Complete Ulysses'

Now online, Current's roundup of this month's NEA Media Arts grants, which includes several high-profile first-time recipients with strong digital components. Open-source pioneer Mozilla Foundation of Mountain View, Calif. — parent of the Firefox browser — won $100,000 for Open(Art), which will commission collaborations between artists and technologists to create and exhibit artwork on the Web. The Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco also received $100,000, to support the Factory Hybrid Filmmaking Project, a pilot for young filmmakers producing digital and web-native short films.

Larry Josephson received $10,000 for his ambitious multimedia project, The Complete Ulysses. Josephson, a pioneering host on Pacifica's WBAI in New York, has celebrities lined up to read James Joyce's masterwork, estimated to take 30 hours or more. He's hoping for distribution on pubradio, Sirius/XM satellite radio and the Internet as well as via smartphone apps and compact discs — a wide, multiplatform reach that the NEA was aiming for with the new grants category, enlarged from funding mainly TV and radio projects in previous years.

Other pubcasting-related grants included $75,000 to Appalshop Inc., which operates WMMT in Whitesburg, Ky., for the Thousand Kites radio series and a website for The Prison Poetry Workshop, presenting poetry composed by prisoners in jails across the country; and $75,000 to Auricle Communications, licensee of freeform community radio station WFMU-FM in Jersey City, N.J., for its Re:Mix Media Project, a  new series using the Free Music Archive’s interactive platform to create multimedia art.

'Sesame Street' goes interactive this fall with help from Microsoft

Here's an update on the partnership announced last October between Sesame Workshop and Microsoft to use Xbox 360 consoles fitted with Kinect motion-sensor technology to create interactive educational experiences for kids, including Sesame Street.

Soho Studios, a new Microsoft unit in London, is working on Kinect Sesame Street TV, due out this autumn, reports C21 Media, a site focusing on cutting-edge content. “With Sesame Street from 1969 onwards, the characters have looked out of the TV and asked the kids a question and assumed they were answering,” said Soho Studios’ Senior Design Director Josh Atkins. “What we’ve done is allowed kids to answer.”

He tells C21 Media about a game called "The Letter Tree," in which Cookie Monster is hungry for his next meal. Everything that grows on the tree starts with a particular letter; if kids watching jump up and down, the goodies fall and Cookie Monster gets his reward. “The characters on the screen actually know what the child has done, they respond to the child’s actions,” Atkins said. “Kids at one point believed they were talking to the TV but the TV would only kind of respond. Now the TV responds.”