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MTV hits the streets of New York and the Web for its latest offerings

MTV heads up the teen roster on cable this fall, launching its first interactive game show webRIOT. Developed by Internet media company Spiderdance, the half-hour series will air daily, pitting in-studio contestants against on-line ones in a rapid-fire music quiz. Each...
September 1, 1999

MTV heads up the teen roster on cable this fall, launching its first interactive game show webRIOT. Developed by Internet media company Spiderdance, the half-hour series will air daily, pitting in-studio contestants against on-line ones in a rapid-fire music quiz. Each day, the top 10 on-line players will have their names scrolled across the TV screen at the end of the show.

Trolling for even more teen eyeballs, the music net has also debuted MTV Downtown, a 13 x half-hour animated series loosely based on creator Chris Prynoski’s early attempts to string streeter-style interviews with everyday New Yorkers into an animated series. ‘That proved to be a little bit unfeasible. The executives thought it was a little better to approve the script,’ says Prynoski.

What developed instead was a gritty teen/young adult toon offering that differs visually from many of the sitcom-ish series aimed at this demo. Creators used grungy colors and off-kilter camera angles to give Downtown an underground feel. As well as story lines featuring a multitude of multicultural characters (which Prynoski says was not intentional but rather an accurate depiction of New York), the program features some very weird fantasy and flashback scenes that tell stories about New York’s bar scene, racing on the subway and scouring underground drainage tunnels.

The script is intentionally kept sketchy since it’s voiced by non-actors-including everyone from Prynoski’s friends to performance artists. The idea is to keep the show as realistic as possible.

Prynoski says he was influenced by John Hubley films such as Moonbird and Cartoon Networks’ Dr. Katz. The show’s animation style (animation verité) is similar to its predecessor Real World, which airs before MTV Downtown’s 10:30 p.m. Tuesday spot.

The new toon fits with the MTV philosophy of producing animation that older teens and adults can appreciate, a mandate that evolved from the success of more adult-targeted animation like The Simpsons and Daria, says Prynoski. ‘Animation is on its way to being accepted as a regular adult genre. It’s less of a novelty now.’

MTV has created an MTV Downtown Web site, featuring characters’ quips and gripes, and the ‘Clip of the Week,’ which streams a scene from the upcoming week’s episode.

Up next on the MTV production slate are feature films based on hit TV series Daria and Celebrity Death Match.

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