Ben Silverman's Electus Snags First Deal -- With Yahoo

Inks Production Deal With Jason Bateman, Will Arnett

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LAS VEGAS ( -- Ben Silverman's branded-entertainment company, Electus, has a new distribution partner in Yahoo and a production deal with a couple of well-known comedic actors looking to make humorous commercials for the web, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett.

Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman Credit: Virginia Sherwood
The former NBC Entertainment co-chairman announced both deals separately at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to drum up interest in his new venture launched last summer, a unit of Barry Diller's IAC, which includes Notional, the production company led by CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen.

The terms of and length of neither deal were disclosed, but the Yahoo deal gives Mr. Silverman a potent distribution engine, access to Yahoo's advertisers, and copious user data with which to target programming.

"We have a ton of insight and data on what or consumers are doing," said Yahoo sales chief Joanne Bradford. "Then we will work with Ben and the advertiser to figure out what great content to build."

Connecting content to brands
The second deal, with Messrs. Bateman and Arnett, is for the duo to launch a shingle, "DumDum," under the Electus umbrella, much like Notional, the TV production company spun out of IAC's CollegeHumor, but focused on comedic web video for advertisers.

Mr. Bateman described DumDum as a "syndicate, troupe or repertory company" consisting of friends from the entertainment industry who want a creative outlet and don't care if a brand is involved. He said he and Mr. Arnett would write, direct and even act in some, but more often recruit others interested in whatever idea they've matched with a potential advertiser.

"The fun will be to do something on a Saturday and shoot something very low-tech, very lo-fi, something that's perfect for viral distribution," Mr. Bateman said, in an interview. "We have a clubhouse that Ben has provided for us and all ideas are welcome."

As part of Mr. Silverman's deal with Yahoo, Electus will produce a set number of shows for the portal. Some may be produced by Mr. Bateman or by Notional, but no show will be produced until an advertiser is attached.

Ms. Bradford said talks with Mr. Silverman had begun before the holidays and a formal pact signed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Ms. Bradford and Mr. Silverman weren't talking about any specific shows, but Mr. Silverman said, "we have a couple we are locked into and there's one specific concept that has an advertiser engaged and that will be launching first."

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