In Zombie College, our hero enrolls in a school with a small hitch: his fellow students are zombies who want to eat his brain. That's life in the world of Icebox.com an ingenious Internet site presenting edgy cartoons written by top Hollywood talent.
Steve Stanford, the site's CEO and co-founder, learned his way around cyberspace when he started up power agency ICM's New Media Group. And that's where he realized the Internet could be an ideal incubator for scripts that weren't finding their way to production at the networks. Joining forces with three veteran producers (from The X-Files, The Simpsons and King of the Hill), Stanford launched the site last March with its first five cartoons.
Icebox takes advantage of the virtues of the Net. It can get a show up and running in a matter of months--not the one-year-plus lag time of the networks. Costs are about $7,000 for a minute of programming, in contrast to about $50,000 for network-TV fare. And as its often over-the-top programming makes clear, it can take risks on content that the networks can't. Another un-TV-like feature: there's a spot where aspiring filmmakers can post their work and be considered for inclusion in the main site.
Icebox scored a coup recently when Showtime snapped up Starship Regulars, making it the first series to leap from the Net to a network. The key, Stanford says, is using the Internet to break down Hollywood's formulaic way of doing things. "TV constantly says, 'This is a hit, so we need to do the same thing again,'" says Stanford. "Icebox is about saying to the creators, 'Do the show you want to do.'"