Yahoo Planning Scripted Series

Katie Couric gotcha interview among highlights from upfront event

Yahoo's packed-out Digital Content NewFront event included a plethora of new programming Wednesday afternoon, including a series from the creators of Broadway hit Rock of Ages called 'Dancing With Myself.' The scripted show, set for 2013, will be a musical comedy featuring songs from the 1980s' rock scene and is produced by RelativityREAL and Rock's Matt Weaver.

Wayne Powers, svp of North American ad sales, opened Yahoo's presentation with what might as well be the NewFront rallying cry: "Only Yahoo can deliver premium content experiences across screens and at scale." Ross Levinsohn, evp and head of global media for the Web giant, echoed that sentiment, asserting that "the conversation has changed from 'if' we should spend to 'how much?' "

Some of the new content was introduced with a series of comedy sketches including talent from the upcoming shows. For example, one skit showcased some of the "trouble" Yahoo has had with creative types inhabiting its offices, such as actress Judy Greer's predilection for living under one employee's desk.

Later in the presentation Levinsohn was subject to a "surprise" interview from Katie Couric. "A lot of people are getting into video," Couric fired at Levinsohn. "What makes you so special?"

"You weren't supposed to be this tough on me," Levinsohn laughed. "Can we check the script?"

Not everything went according to plan however. A jokey send-up of "New York" by Jay-Z lost steam halfway through, and Violent Femmes singer Gordon Gano had to deal with some feedback as he performed "Blister in the Sun."

"I gotta say that might be the all-time world's record for not singing along to that song," Gano said wryly about halfway through. The audience responded with cheers (and singing), and Gano closed to loud applause.

"Who rolled one to that song?" Levinsohn asked after Gano left the stage. "This is being videotaped," Powers reminded him.

Levinsohn also indulged in what is fast becoming a digital video pitch mainstay: stealth YouTube bashing, roughly a week before YouTube's scheduled and much anticipated upfront event. "I enjoy watching cats on skateboards chasing laser pointers as much as anybody; we're shooting a little higher than that here," he said.


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