Tonight marks the final chapters of the two year old brainchild of A-list talent rep and producer Michael Flutie, namely the original web series he helped develop with NYU senior Sean Patrick Murray (and my former intern), Under the Arch. Referring of course to Stanford White’s iconic Washington Square Park memorial celebrating George Washington’s centennial, the much buzzed about reality show fittingly centers around seven New York university students coming of age in the Big Apple. Though the webisodes will be available to select audiences as soon as tomorrow (!), the format bears little resemblance to the “30 minute pilot” he told Gawker about back in February of 2008.
In the same post, Murray also posited that there were “many networks very interested” in picking up the series. Instead, it seems that Under the Arch’ cut out the middle man, the networks, and will be strictly web 2.0, with it’s home available exclusively on it’s production company’s website, madwood.tv. The whole series has been shot in a way that defies traditional programming. Flutie, who, among other things, specializes in “reality based narratives” tells me that the complete first season falls into a genre called “webeps,” 5-7 minute bursts of information that resemble nothing so much as an extended twitter sesh. “Right now there are 7 webeps,” Flutie says excitedly about season one, with plans “to shoot 12-16 in the Fall.” Tonight, guests at the Free Arts Annual Benefit After Party held at Sacco’s Bungalow 8 will be getting an Under the Arch credit card, which will allow you to go live as soon as tomorrow. Much like those elevator cards championed by semi-exclusive hotel bars around NYC, Madwood plans to send the cards to about 3000 “tastemakers” who can then recommend other friends to apply for viewing privileges.
I was originally confused about the money making ability of a show with such a small audience and no traditional advertising platform, but, no fear, Flutie is also championing what he calls the “webvert” (not to be confused with sexual predators who troll online chat rooms), or ads created by the cast and Madwood in conjunction with brands the students would use in everyday lives. Ideally, Flutie would like to partner up with labels like “DKNY or Kenneth Cole” to create added entertainment that will live on the site. While they have yet to sell any of these webverts, Madwood will be holding an “upfront for the show in June” where Mr. Flutie will be “hand selecting brands” that will be able to attend that “speak to this generation of kids, and “works with the architecture of the show.” It sounds like an amazing opportunity for contraceptive companies.
Talking to both Sean and the Michael, I tried to get a better idea of why Amy Sacco, who is also working with Flutie’s Madwood Entertainment on her own reality show, would involve herself in hosting a party for a concept that has seemingly little in common with her brand. While Murray told me that she was looking for “new projects” there are no plans for Amy Sacco to appear on Under the Arch, and no plans for Under the Arch cast members to moonlight in Sacco’s as yet untitled vehicle.
Sacco originally was pitched to Bravo as part of a larger ensemble cast from a sizzle Madwood had developed. The network then went back to Flutie and decided that they were interested in developing a show based solely around Amy. While Flutie will acknowledge, “she is in the process of opening a new club,” he’s also “not really allowed to speak about what the show is about.” Though Bravo has, according to Flutie, bought the concept, when I emailed a flack for Madwood TV to ask if it had been greenlit, the answer was a succinct “no.”
In any event, during one of her routine development meetings with Madwood Entertainment, she saw the cast and immediately told Flutie that whenever they were ready to have a launch party, she’d have it at Bungs. While some may think Sacco is hitching her wagon to a rising star, or pulling the old Madge kissing Britney to gain youth relevancy spiel, Flutie says he “doesn’t’ think it’s calculated or orchestrated…. she has an instinct for things that are current.” For her, a “student of the city,” Under the Arch was a “very strong voice of what’s happening” and hosting a party with stylist and boutique owner Jeffrey Kalinsky (who styled the cast for tonight’s event), was “her way of acknowledging the show and its existence.” Of course she wanted to connect to a youth market, Flutie posits, “because we all want to be a part of a youth market.” Amy’s official quote on the show puts her in the munificent role of NYC benefactor (which may be a plot line clue for her own programming), when she says “New York’s pulse runs on the energy of the talent, art, ideas and expressions of young entrepreneurs and students. It is extremely important to me to promote and foster the future lifeline of this great city.”
For anyone who has worked in television, you know that getting your show on the air (or the web), is a looooooooong ass process. Sean Patrick Murray and his friends finally have their 15, (or more appropriately 7) minutes of fame and I, for one can’t wait to mistakenly flaunt my “credit card” when I next buy drinks with other extended development deal friends as a proof that there is indeed hope, even if its in the form of a webep.
Sean Patrick Murray does his best Bruno impression.
Sorry ladies, but this boy bats for the G-A-Ys
Jeffrey Kalinsky’s look for castmember Sarah Dennis Browne’s (another former intern!), big night on the town.
Under the Arch’s Joey goes out gay, but likes the girls.