In second screen twist, TV series debuts an iBook

By Natan Edelsburg 

It doesn’t always take a massive marketing budget and team to produce a second screen experience for a scripted show. TNT’s Leverage, which recently began it’s fifth season, has become “the first major TV series to do a behind-the scenes episode guide as an iBooks Author title,” according to Electric Entertainment, the production company behind the show.

This second screen extension of the show (for it’s previous fourth season, now available in iTunes) is innovative and interesting for a number of reasons. First, it was designed and spearheaded by Electric’s owner, the executive producer of the show Dean Devlin. “The book offers fans an inside glimpse at how the show is made,” and “it includes full screen photos, videos, production story documents, script pages and storyboards,” according to the company.

The show, about a five person team that helps ordinary citizens with problems, had a great start in linear ratings as well. Devlin’s idea to create an iBook for the show is a cost-effective way to give fans what they want most – an inside look into the show. Shows like How I Met Your Mother have had huge successes growing a following just around the production team to giving fans this type of look and now Devlin and his team are taking the access they have to the show to the iPad. We spoke to Devlin about its creation.

Lost Remote: How do you use social media as an EP?

Dean Devlin: I love being able to personally interact with our fans on Twitter and Facebook. Answering their questions and talking about the show with them really gets everyone excited about and invested in the show, myself included! The other unique thing about social media is that it lets us personally keep our fans updated whenever we have something new for them – the Leverage ebook, new podcast episodes, cast interviews…everything gets updated on Facebook and Twitter. Every other business tried to develop a one on one relationship with their customers, but the entertainment industry never really has. Social networking allows us to engage on an individual level.

LR: What’s your background in TV?

Devlin: Well right now I’m the executive producer on TNT’s “Leverage,” and I also direct several episodes of the show each season. TNT’s been such a great home for us, we’re hoping to keep it going as long as there are bad guys to take down! Before Leverage, I executive produced the “Librarian” franchise for TNT and “The Triangle” for Sy Fy. My first series, though, was “The Visitor” for Fox. That one goes way back!

LR: Why did you decide to create an iBook for the show? What’s the content about?

Devlin: I got really excited about the iBook Author application when Apple released it earlier this year. The app was really cool and gave me the idea for a book that included behind the scenes content that our fans don’t normally have access to – storyboards, artwork, clips, script pages. We got together in house at Electric and came up with the idea to create an ebook that would act as a companion piece to Leverage’s fourth season and give our fans a look at everything that goes into making what they finally see on TV.

LR: How will the iBook make the show more social? Cause engagement with fans?

Devlin: This ebook is just the first of many – we plan on creating an ebook for all the seasons of Leverage. We’re hoping that the content we’re making available to the fans will get them re-energized about past seasons and episodes and get everyone talking about them again in a whole new light.