No Concession Stand Most studios are running scared from Web movie pirates, but Miramax is wading right into the digital high seas. On Jan. 18 the 1999 feature film Guinevere (Sarah Polley, Stephen Rea) will be available for download to anyone with a credit card (miramax.com or sightsound.com). It’s the first of 12 movies Miramax is putting online in partnership with SightSound.com, the producers of last year’s online-only feature Quantum Project (John Cleese, Stephen Dorff). The huge file — around 500 megabytes — will cost $3.49 and includes a security feature that supposedly makes it viewable for only 24 hours. No word yet on when hackers plan to release the free version.
Political Action Politics is ruled by money these days, so it’s only fitting that a seat on late-night comedy klatch Politically Incorrect went up for auction last week (abctvauctions.com). ”It’s like being on Millionaire — except you pay us,” says acerbic host Bill Maher, who promises not to give the citizen panelist any preferential treatment (aside from airfare, hotel, and a $500 appearance fee). The true value of the panelist’s post on the show will be revealed when the auction ends Jan. 22. But Maher has already appraised it: ”It’s worth bragging rights around the office, and you can’t put a price on that.”
Ear and Now All the new-fangled Net technology out there hasn’t killed old-fashioned radio: SCIFI.com is producing spoken-word dramas that may as well be from the War of the Worlds era — except that they’re available only online (scifi.com/set). A recent Seeing Ear Theatre production featured Luke Perry and Gina Gershon overacting a horror classic from Tales From the Crypt. On Jan. 19, an original existential comedy, An Elevator and a Pole, debuts with Kyra Sedgwick, Peter Gallagher, Oliver Platt, and Stanley Tucci.
Punch Lineup Get ready to gag on your lunch: The Improv and comedycentral.com have inked a deal to put three- to five-minute clips of up-and-coming comics on the Web every weekday at noon. At least 100 comedians, including Heath Hyche (Man on the Moon) and Chris Rock warm-up man Darren Carter, will yuk it up for the series starting Jan. 22 — remember to swallow before you laugh.
Set Pieces The Sundance Online Film Festival won’t have the star power of Park City, Utah, but anyone trying to break into online showbiz should watch it (sundance.org). It includes Honkworm’s talking-seafood series FishBar; The Mullet Chronicles from AtomFilms; the iFilm short Freeware; and an interactive memoir devoted to gay novelist John Rechy that combines live-action 3-D panoramas, narration, and video.
Play Phone Sega, in its ongoing attempt to make Dreamcast the Swiss Army knife of videogaming, has turned its venerable console into a telephone. The new Dreamcall technology lets players make calls over the Net to anywhere in the world. Dreamcast-to-Dreamcast calls are free, but dialing up a phone will cost 5 cents a minute. Don’t bother putting the joystick up to your ear; your TV set acts as both dial pad and speaker, and you talk into a microphone attached to the controller. Now, if they could just put Space Channel 5 on a mobile phone …
NOTE THIS DATE
Tell the kids: A new O-Town song, ”Take Me Under,” is out JAN. 16 exclusively on Launch.com.