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October 29, 2006

Passions Tabloid Providing Great Transmedia Storytelling Opportunities

NBC's soaps, known for their fantasy and departure of the semi-realistic depiction of the issues of domestic life that is expected from soap operas, are also known for some interesting innovations, particularly the show Passions. Since I've begun writing at the C3 blog, I've written about an animated sequence on the soap, as well as a Bollywood episode. Passions was also the first soap to launch on iTunes. Now, it is making news once again by working with a new storyline and site called Tabloid Truth. The storyline will play out over a 12-week period, with the tabloid--run by gossip columnist J.T. Cornell, who as returned to the town to cause problems, publishing new installments twice a week.

One benefit Passions has, with its irreverent style and its lack of focus on reality, is less concern about an immersive and realistic tabloid site. The site features a convergence of video, pictures, and text, in a transmedia attempt further storylines in interesting ways.

It also includes message boards encouraging readers to do their own gossiping and digging as well. As opposed to materials for an ARG, where every attempt is made to create an authentic product, this is an over-the-top tabloid on the main site for Passions, but it presents an interesting model for a transmedia story. I've long argued that soaps should do these types of crossovers on a more regular basis, including online newspapers for their shows featuring user-generated content.

Since my thesis at MIT is on the soap genre and the developments of new transmedia storytelling initiatives that take advantage of the massive storytelling potential in these narrative universes, I'm interested in how these projects are serving to slowly acclimate soap audiences to this type of storytelling.

More information is provided through the press release, including that each video installment will feature a hidden clue that will forward a story. Again, this storyline is strongest because the tabloid writer is a character on the show, and the rumors and installments in this online space are driving the stories on the show. Soaps are experimenting with transmedia in increasing ways, developing into what may become a fully immersed transmedia storyline at some point. See previous posts about the Guiding Light/Marvel crossover I wrote about yesterday, GL's Springfield Burns, As the World Turns's Oakdale Confidential, and ATWT's blog for character Luke Snyder.

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