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Xbox to feature original programming

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Michael Cieply
New York Times News Service / March 31, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Microsoft, seeking to expand offerings on its Xbox 360 console, has reached an agreement with a company headed by Peter Safran, the veteran Hollywood producer and talent manager, to produce original shows for distribution on the system.

Through his Safran Co., Safran represents clients like the actor and producer Sean Combs ("Monster's Ball"), the actor and writer Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding"), and the filmmakers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer ("Epic Movie"). Safran founded the company in 2006 after leaving Brillstein-Grey Management.

Speaking by telephone last week, Scott Nocas, global marketing manager for programming of the Xbox Live entertainment service, said he expected similar deals to follow.

"We definitely look at this as the first of many," said Nocas.

In an interview at his office in Los Angeles last week, Safran said his first round of programs would all be scripted, as opposed to reality shows, and would probably run under 10 minutes.

He said he planned initially to focus on genres, like comedy and horror, that appeal to the Xbox 360 audience, which is heavily concentrated from the ages of 14 to 34, and tends to be more male than female. The first shows are expected to be available to viewers by the fall.

"The Xbox is unique. It operates at a level outside of what we generally consider Web entertainment," Safran said, referring to the system's tight demographic base.

The new shows will be available exclusively via the Xbox 360 for a time, then may appear elsewhere, Safran said.

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