DreamWorks SKG, Imagine Entertainment form Internet Partnership

Put DreamWorks SKG and Imagine Entertainment together and what do you have? POP.com, a joint effort by the two of the film industry's most innovative and highly regarded companies. On Monday, October 25, film director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), actor/producer/director Ron Howard (Apollo 13), and their associates announced a new joint venture to bring professionally produced short videos to the Internet. The videos will incorporate both live action and animation, with an emphasis on comedy.

Financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, POP.com is a partnership between DreamWorks SKG (the studio founded by Spielberg, former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and music industry mogul David Geffen) and Imagine Entertainment (the production company owned by Howard and producer Brian Grazer). Allen, an investor in DreamWorks SKG, is also involved in creating a state-of-the-art recording studio in London.

POP.com's website will debut next spring, with short video segments of from one to six minutes long. The site will be soliciting ideas from its visitors. Writers of the most popular outside submissions will be offered development contracts at DreamWorks and Imagine, according to news reports. Ron Howard, who has spent his entire life in the entertainment industry, said he is looking forward to working "outside the narrative discipline" of television and feature film work.

"Sounds like fun to me," Howard said. "While much of what we have learned throughout our careers will apply, I am also certain that new and unusual aesthetic values will quickly evolve, shaped by the medium itself, the public, and the creative collaborations which this company will encourage." Spielberg was equally enthusiastic about POP.com's future: "The Internet offers unlimited potential as a new entertainment arena."

Whether big-screen professionals like Howard and Spielberg can scale their talents to "desktop theater" remains to be seen, but their bold step into the Internet will certainly encourage others to follow.