To make a short story long

In what seems like a case of getting an engineer to build a card house, Steven Bochco, he of NYPD Blue and LA Law and Hill Street Blues, is producing a series of web videos called Café Confidential for Metacafe. I’m sure there’s a more universal parallel I could make if only I liked this kind of thing, but Canadians who get Citytv, think Speakers Corner, only with a high-profile Hollywood writer’s name attached to it. The high-profile talent behind the name isn’t quite as evident.

Launched a couple of days ago, the section has a handful of talking head videos of young adults talking about their first time, worst date, craziest day on the job, weird family, etc. As the site puts it:

Pour yourself a hot latte and listen in as the girl next door and the guy across the hall reveal their most personal stories. No scripts, no sets, no special effects – here at Café Confidential, you get real stories from real people, handpicked by Hollywood producer Steven Bochco.

The multiple-Emmy-award winning writer/producer explains his reasons for getting into Internet video to the LA Times. Sort of. He explains why Hollywood is starting to embrace sites like YouTube and the far less popular and less democratic Metacafe, taking lessons from the recording industry’s failure:

“If you spend your life chasing your consumers and filing lawsuits, that’s a fool’s errand,” Bochco said. “At the end of the day, the consumer always wins. So, do you want to be right and spend five years and millions of dollars in legal fees to prove it? Or do you want to be successful?”

He explains why he choose the confessional clip format:

“The Internet is at its best when it distracts its users,” Bochco said. “You’re waiting at the bus stop, you’re in between classes, you have 20 minutes — so you go online and you have some fun.”

As for why he’s delving into web-based content, Bochco is even more vague than the industry types I heard at the Banff World Television Festival who talked about the need to create online content before quite knowing where it was leading or how to make money from it.

[He] saw the project as a way to create entertainment outside the confines of traditional Hollywood. … Bochco isn’t sure how people will respond to his videos. But he believes he has to try to cross the bridge between old media and new. “Maybe as this evolves, it will take us to places we hadn’t anticipated,” he said.

So far I find Café Confidential far more interesting in concept than execution. The confessions range from bland to banal. It’s kind of like listening to that annoying guy at work’s endless anecdotes that end with “maybe you had to be there.” The only thing interesting about the concept is that someone like Bochco is teaming with a site like Metacafe with, apparently, the hope of generating revenue from a web-only offering.

I’m skeptical, but for this – whatever “this” is – to evolve and take us to those unanticipated places, there has to be something to evolve from, right?

Craziest Day at Work

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