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November 9, 2006

The Papdits and InTurn on CBS innertube: Thank You Very Much

Along with news this week that CBS has formed CBS Interactive under the helm of Quincy Smith, news has also broken that the network will have new content available on its innertube player and will be launching innertube content onto CBS. One is a discarded pilot, while the other is a reality show based on the soap opera industry.

The first is plans for innertube to feature a pilot that the network did not end up putting into the schedule, a show called The Papdits. The show was created by Anthony Hines, who wrote the popular feature film Borat. The show, which was a pilot for this past season, strikes a similar cord with the popular film. In The Papdits, a family from Kashmir interacts with Americans, very similar to Borat's film, which creates comic misunderstandings and cultural differences. No surprise that CBS decided to pull this one out of the archives now that Borat looks to be a major commercial success at the box office.

The whole act, both Borat and the theme of this show, reminds me of the old Andy Kaufman character that inspired Latka Gravas, in which he did the stand-up as an intentionally bad immigrant comedian who did a series of horrible impersonations. The legend is always that, with Kaufman being an unknown, audiences would either heckle or perhaps give polite applause to the foreign comedian, laughing only about how horrible he was, until he would wow them with an unbelievable Elvis Presley impersonation. The gag got even more laughs when Kaufman became famous.

And the promotion for Borat was especially Kaufman-esque, with his going on each show in character. If only, during the segment I watched with his appearance on David Letterman, he had ended up getting into a fight with someone, a la Jerry "The King" Lawler.

Also, InTurn is in the works for a special on CBS as well. I first wrote about this show back in August. The show chooses several aspiring actors and has them compete for several weeks while receiving instruction and advice from the cast and crew of soap opera As the World Turns. The actors are competing for a short-term contract with the show, with several of them being eliminated before the final few make cameo appearances on the soap's broadcast, allowing the television viewers to participate in the voting process. Both those who followed the innertube show and those who just watched ATWT show itself seemed intrigued by the concept. The winner, Alex, was well-liked on his cameo appearance on the show, when he was murdered by the slasher, a town serial killer that has since been apprehended. He returned in a small recurring role of Elwood, the college roommate of Casey Hughes, one of the feature characters on the show. Elwood has been explained as the cousin of the fallen character who was murdered by the slasher. He has been used sparingly, but producers are planning to keep him around as a recurring character on the show even after their obligations to him are finished.

I don't know if InTurn brought any new fans to the show or not, but it must have been a reasonable success, since it is now being planned for a special compilation video the day after Thanksgiving on CBS.

Back in August, I wrote:

Fans seem divided by this, some who like seeing a different aspect of how ATWT is produced and what it's like to be an actor. These people also seem to believe it's a pretty good way to offer relevant transmedia content that doesn't overlap with what's being done on the show and also that it's a good marketing tool to reach out to people who may not be that interested in ATWT but who would love reality television like what InTurn offers.

The other camp is angry that time and energy is being wasted on a reality show when it could be used instead to invest further in the fictional world of Oakdale. These people may not have necessarily been opposed to the book released earlier this year or other projects that remain inside the fictional world but see these types of programs as being irrelevant to the show.

Either way, InTurn is another innovative effort from PGP. If the show develops a following, one has to wonder whether that following will come along with the actor who wins once he or she becomes part of the ATWT cast.

In the end, PGP and CBS must be happy with the results, since they are laucnhing the special on the main network while ATWT is off the air that Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving weekend.

CBS supplies a variety of its television series from the network for innertube, as I have written about previously.

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