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MySpace Hoping 'Jerk' Jives

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MySpace is looking to turn a budding underground dance movement into the next big reality series.

The News Corp.-owned site has partnered with IAC’s Electus to launch Jerk All-Stars, a 14-episode, documentary-style series starting on Nov. 30 that will follow 10 competing dance/rap groups from the world of Jerkin.

For the uninitiated, Jerkin, or Jerk, is a fast-growing youth lifestyle that blends herky-jerky dance moves, hip hop and flashy colorful fashion. The movement has bubbled up in cities like Los Angeles and has fueled the growth of several music artists, such as New Boyz—whose single You're A Jerk has garnered a whopping 43 million-plus views on YouTube—along with groups like the UCLA Jerk Kings, who have appeared on The George Lopez Show.

The movement has also spread rapidly via MySpace, where New Boyz claims close to 400,000 friends and have delivered more than 5 million video views.

Executives at MySpace believe that Jerk All-Stars is a perfect fit for the site’s young, music and entertainment-obsessed audience. “This is a real movement that we found bubbling up,” said MySpace’s chief revenue officer Nada Stirratt. “It’s the kind of movement that MySpace helps make happen. People come to the site to discover things like this.”

Plus, some people come to MySpace to get discovered, and Jerk All-Stars will help provide the opportunity. The show’s contestants will come entirely from the MySpace community.

Prior to the show’s launch, users can upload videos of their own dance performances as part of MySpace’s Jerk Nation Dance Battle. The top-10 user-submitted performers will be invited to compete on the show.

That sort of user-involvement is crucial to a Web entertainment series succeeding, argues Stirratt. “We don't have an audience where we can just throw up a bunch of episodes, and [an audience will] just watch it,” she said. “They have to be part of it. Our audience doesn’t just lean back.”

In the case of Jerk All-Stars, the audience will also be able to vote on which five teams make it to the final episode. Besides showcasing Jerkin competitions, the new series will delve into the personal lives of the competitors as they train and prepare.

MySpace has signed on Sprite as the official sponsor of Jerk All-Stars. The soft drink brand will be featured in every episode of Jerk All-Stars, while also running traditional pre-roll ads and banner placements.

According to Caren Pasquale Seckler, vp Sparkling Non Colas The Coca-Cola Company, the show’s youthful, upbeat tone meshes perfectly with Sprite’s brand image. Also, the social/interactive nature of the series appealed to her team. “The idea that we are in places that teens are, and we can have a dialogue with them, is really important.”