Case Study

TV Vet Goes Episodic on Web

Book Club on Steroids: 'Novel Adventures'

By Published on .

The Creators: Jonathan Prince is the creator, writer and executive producer for "Novel Adventures," a CBS-created Web series. He also serves as the executive producer and showrunner for A&E's "The Cleaner," now in its second season. His credits include creating and executive producing CBS's now-cancelled "Cane," as well as "American Dreams," which ran on NBC for three years.


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The Distributors: The eight-episode Web series "Novel Adventures" debuted Nov. 3 on, and Those three sites run each episode exclusively before they release to other sites in the CBS Audience Network, such as MSN, AOL and YouTube. CBS has been promoting the Web series online and on-air, in shows like "CSI: Miami" and "Ghost Whisperer." CBS won't disclose views numbers for "Novel Adventures," but said it's pleased with the show's audience numbers and that "feedback has been positive."

The Sponsors: General Motors' Saturn is the sole sponsor of the show. Mr. Prince said he developed a good relationship with General Motors on both "Cane" and "The Cleaner" and the car maker approached him about integrating Saturn into an online story. In addition to the show's standard ads, an integration deal has the characters driving a Saturn in each episode.

The show was conceived by Mr. Prince following the interest from General Motors, and the two partners then approached networks about running the show online. "We decided to go to a network that had an active site and make it part of their original entertainment," he said. The Content: "Novel Adventures" stars Daphne Zuniga (a "Melrose Place" alum) Paola Turbay, Ashley Williams and Jolie Jenkins as members of a book club. The dramatic twist is that the women end up in adventures each week related to the themes of the books they are reading. Thus, when the club takes up "The Old Man and the Sea," they end up on the beach, where one ends up in the ocean taking a surfing lesson.

"Each week is 'Here is the book' and 'Here is the problem the character is dealing with' and each episode is self contained," Mr. Prince said. Mr. Prince said that because he comes from a traditional TV background, the biggest challenge with the Web show was learning how to tell an emotionally satisfying story in five minutes. While the show is much shorter than a TV show, the production values are high. The eight episodes were shot in 22 different locations with 18 wardrobe changes. "These are beautiful women and I wanted the show to look like high-end Web content," he said. Bonus content for "Novel Adventures" includes blogs, vlogs, quizzes and discussion boards.

Backstory: As the only brother growing up with four sisters, Mr. Prince has always been drawn to tell stories about women. The idea for the show stemmed from the interest his sisters have in book clubs. "They all belong to book clubs and they wanted to make friends with other like-minded women and rather than talk about the book, they talk about everything else," he said.

Endgame: Mr. Prince said "Novel Adventures" could be a calling card for a potential series. "I could go to Lifetime, CBS, ABC and say, 'Here it is.' This could be an on-air series."
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