Cook & Eisner follow Smith’s webisode lead

January 30, 2008

With her new novel, The Timer Game, doing gangbusters business in 12 countries only a week or so out of the gate, Sunday morning speaker Susan Arnout Smith credits at least some of the success to her online video marketing campaign. Directed by Kai Soremekun, one of Steven Spielberg’s original 50 directors for On the Lot, the 19-webisode prequel to the story concluded upon the book’s release and it seems that others are taking note.

Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton reports:

Vuguru pacts with Cook, Putnam’s
New Eisner company readies for ‘Body’

Vuguru, Michael Eisner’s new media production shingle, has partnered with publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons and author Robin Cook to produce a 50-episode series designed to serve as a prequel to Cook’s latest novel, “Foreign Body.”

In a bid for crossover tubthumping between new and old media, the web prequel based on “Body” characters will bow 10 weeks before the release of the book on Aug. 5. Book’s storyline will begin where the prequel leaves off, Vuguru and Putnam’s said Friday.

In announcing the deal, Eisner was effusive about the possibility for such a webisode-book tie-in to “change the traditional publishing and marketing model forever.”

The series, designed for web and mobile platforms, will be co-produced by France’s Cyber Group Animation. Big Fantastic, the L.A.-based production company behind Vuguru’s web serial “Prom Queen,” will develop and direct the two-minute segs.

“Body” revolves around “the dark side of medical tourism,” per Putnam’s, and the journey of a UCLA student who sets out to find answers to a series of unexplained deaths in foreign hospitals. Web serial will revolve around the same characters as featured in the book.

Plan is to release one episode every weekday starting May 27, with the series wrapping the day before the book’s publication. Vuguru is lining up numerous domestic web partners for a syndication-style launch similar to its distribution of “Prom Queen.” Cyber Group will handle international distribution of the series.

Putnam’s prexy Ivan Held said the deal reflected the publishing imprint’s aim to “deliver our authors’ stories to an Internet audience and to expand the overall worldwide readership of Robin Cook.”

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