In Search of Hit, Yahoo Partners With Jack Black on Web Series

Recent Efforts From Tom Hanks and Anthony Zuiker Did Not Live Up to Expectations

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Two months after renewing the comedy series "Burning Love" for two more seasons, Yahoo is doubling down on the genre with "Ghost Ghirls," a new scripted comedy backed by Jack Black.

Black's Electric Dynamite Productions brought the idea to Shine America, which sold the digital distribution rights in the U.S. to the first 12 episodes of the series to Yahoo. Yahoo and Shine America are each funding the production of these episodes, while Yahoo takes the lead on bringing in an advertiser to sponsor the series. Both sides would share in that advertiser revenue, according to Vivi Zigler, president of Shine 360° & Digital at Shine America.

The comedy is about two young female ghostbusters -- actresses Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci -- that investigate a variety of cases involving paranormal activity. Mr. Black is not starring in the show, but will make at least one cameo appearance. Molly Shannon and Jason Schwartzman are among a group of well-known actors who will also make cameo appearances.

Yahoo has enjoyed some success in original comedy programming, with "Burning Love" the best example up to now. In fact, "Burning Love" was the top referral search term to Yahoo media properties in June, according to Erin McPherson, Yahoo's video chief.

"Comedy is among the top performing video content online, and Yahoo is no exception," she said in an email. "Millions of users make our comedy programming a daily habit."

Yahoo's scripted video efforts outside of comedy have been uneven, even when celebrity names are attached. Tom Hanks' "Electric City" seemed to have failed to live up to the buzz it created when first announced, and it did not even land a sponsor. Anthony E. Zuiker's "Cybergeddon" has not become a blockbuster hit either. Still, Ms. McPherson said in the email that "both Yahoo! and our users and partners are very happy with the shows," but she acknowledged, "we also learned a lot and plan on constantly improving the experience for our users and advertisers."

Yahoo declined to disclose viewing numbers for "Burning Love," "Cybergeddon" and "Electric City."

"Ghost Ghirls" will premiere on the web portal this spring, with episodes running around 10 minutes each. Yahoo hasn't yet decided whether it will unveil the entire series at once, or roll out episodes one at a time.

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