Jan 16, 2009

Entertainment - Kutcher and Digg plan Sundance Internet reality show

Glenn Chapman

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Actor Ashton Kutcher and Digg website founder Kevin Rose plan to use the prestigious Sundance Film festival as a stage for an online game show pitting "social media mavens" against each other in zany challenges.

"24 Hours @ Sundance" will stream live online, with four popular bloggers vying in feats such as making the longest call to Austria using a mobile phone borrowed from an unsuspecting stranger.

A tougher task will be for each blogger to get a Sundance attendee to say that Kutcher should have received an Oscar for his film "Dude, Where's My Car?" and mean it.

David Mackenzie's new film "Spread" starring Kutcher also premieres at Sundance.

"It really is the birth of a new kind of reality television," Kutcher said Wednesday.

"A game-reality-news show. The contestants will have to engage their online communities to help them navigate the roads of Kevin's and Ashton's crazy challenges."

The contest starts January 17 in Park City, Utah, two days into the prestigious Sundance Film Festival taking place there.

Every three hours until the next morning, bloggers Meghan Asha, Matt Marshall, C.J. Peters and Irina Slutsky will be given five new tasks to complete as quickly as possible.

The contestants will chronicle their adventures with video cameras in Nokia mobile telephones and the action will be streamed live to 24hoursatsundance.com on the Internet using Qik software platform.

"If we screw up and it goes on live, there is no taking it back," Rose said.

"All their audiences will be following along on the Web and have a forum to give instant feedback. If the mavens don't have an answer they can ask their audience, have them do the research and get back pretty much in real time."

Qik lets people with mobile telephone video cameras share what they see and hear with folks elsewhere and swap instant messages simultaneously using the Internet.

Kutcher and his Katalyst Media partner Jason Goldberg became Qik fans after seeing the technology demonstrated by the startup at a TechCrunch 50 gathering in San Francisco last year.

Kutcher and Rose will co-host the game show and decide the winner. Qik and Katalyst have arranged with YouTube to archive show video for viewing on demand online at www.youtube.com/24hoursatsundance.

Kutcher expects Sundance to be a launch pad for an Internet Age iteration of reality television and envisions "24hours @" shows from other big events such as Grand Prix auto racing and the Super Bowl US football championship.

"The trend in TV in general is everything moving closer to live," Kutcher said. "As we move programming to the Web we have the ability to be live in real time with our audience involved. I think that is what people want."

The blogger that is supreme at Sundance wins "bragging rights" and each contender gets to take part in "the birth of a new form of entertainment" as well as attract new readers to their websites, Kutcher said.

Kutcher promised he would not be playing tricks on celebrities, a role he made famous in his television show "Punk'd."

"But, there may be a little manipulation," Kutcher said slyly.

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