Hollywood bigwig making shows for XBL

Microsoft signs on Peter Safran's production house to create original shorts for Xbox 360's online service, first flick to appear this fall.

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After launching the Xbox 360 in 2005, Microsoft was quick to position its console as a multipurpose media device, thanks in large part to Xbox Live. In addition to providing an online platform and networking service for games, Xbox Live has played home to an array of ancillary content, including standard- and high-definition films from major Hollywood outfits such as Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney, as well as broadcast TV studios such as NBC, CBS, and ABC.

Licensed content well accounted for, Microsoft is now looking to enter the realm of original video content, as the Xbox maker has signed on Safran Company to create and distribute original programming to appear on Xbox Live, reports The New York Times. Headed by Hollywood veteran Peter Safran, the production company represents high-profile artists such as Sean "P Diddy" Combs (8 Mile, Bad Boys II), Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, A Wilderness of Monkeys), and writer Aaron Seltzer (Scary Movie 2, Epic Movie).

According to the Times, Safran's first run of programming will be scripted ventures that run under 10 minutes and span a variety of genres that appeal primarily to men aged 14 to 34, including comedy and horror, which are considered to be the Xbox 360's primary audience. The first shows are expected to appear on Xbox Live this fall, and Safran said the content may appear in other venues after its initial run on the Xbox 360. Also speaking to the Times, Xbox Live global marketing manager Scott Nocas said that some of the shows may be ad-supported.

While specific programming has yet to be announced, Safran did tell the Times that he hopes to pull in established filmmakers to create projects for Xbox Live, though there are no plans to recruit major Hollywood acting talent.

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