In Brief

Microsoft sponsors NATPE i-pitch contest...
January 1, 2000

Microsoft sponsors NATPE i-pitch contest

While tv industry folk debate the relative merits of convergence, internet giant Microsoft aims to give a boost to producers ready to go interactive.

Microsoft is sponsoring a two-day i-pitch contest at NATPE 2000 (January 24-27). On the first day of the contest, January 25, hopeful candidates will pitch ideas for original interactive TV programming. The second day will focus on how to add interactivity to existing shows. Microsoft has reportedly pledged US$50,000 to develop ideas.

A shortlist of 30 producers will be drawn from the first 100 people to arrive at the audition on January 24 (2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Room 257 of the New Orleans Convention Center). The yet unnamed judges will be selected by Microsoft.

The contest takes place in the Web Lounge Theater on the natpe convention floor, and will also be video-streamed on

Hot Docs call for pitches

The Toronto Hot Docs Doc Forum has announced more details for prospective pitchers. Slots are available for 36 producers, with entry information available on the Hot Docs web site, at Deadline for entries is February 17.

Blair Witch kids

The Blair Witch Project, the reported US$50,000 film which went on to net over $140 million in the U.S. alone, has spawned two follow-ups. Blair Witch 2, the sequel, will begin filming this February with a budget of $10 million. The project is being undertaken by noted doc director Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper), and will be wrapped by Halloween. The story will be an amalgamation of several commissioned scripts, with the original film team playing the part of executive producers.

Blair Witch 3, the prequel to the original film, is set to roll out summer 2001.

ZDTV goes to Vulcan

Ziff-Davis has sold its 64% interest in ZDTV to Washington’s Vulcan Ventures, an investment organization which owns numerous on-line and cable interests. The US$204.8 million deal will give Vulcan a 97% stake in the computer and technology channel, Vulcan having acquired a 33% share almost a year ago. ZDTV will continue to maintain contact with the ZD online and publishing family, with efforts that include a joint news organization and new program development.

MIP Asia recovery

Increased traffic at MIP Asia last December points to the recovery of the Asian market. According to Reed Midem figures, 793 companies participated in the Singapore event (an increase of 9% over the previous year). More importantly, 583 buyers made the trip (up 10%), representing a third of the 1,637 attendees.

History Channel on ZDF

The History Channel will begin a branded block on Germany’s ZDF beginning January 25. The one-hour block will appear every Tuesday night, and will be branded as `The History Channel – Geschichte erleben.’ The block will feature programming produced by The History Channel.

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