Strike.TV was born on the picket line.
The new Web site was conceived of during the Hollywood writers strike this year. It now feels like a millennium ago, so if your memory is foggy, that was when writers struck in a dispute with the studios – largely over how to divvy up revenue from online entertainment. That effectively shut down Hollywood for more than three months.
At the time, writers got their message out in Web videos that were much watched on the strike's unofficial blog, United Hollywood, and on YouTube.
“Everyone was making these movies about the strike,” said Peter Hyoguchi, chief executive officer of Strike.TV. “I thought, ‘What if we just did our own Web site that wasn't movies about the strike?'”
Months later and after much anticipation, Strike.TV has gotten under way as a portal for professionally created Web series. The site debuts with 10 original series and promises more than 40 series eventually.
Among the series:
“Global Warming,” starring Kristin Wiig (“Saturday Night Live”) and Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”). Wiig plays an office worker who falls in love with her tech-support guy in India (Mandvi).
“House Poor,” starring Mindy Kaling (“The Office”), is a mockumentary about a woman who doesn't have enough cash to furnish her house.
“Unknown Sender.” Steven E. de Souza, writer of “Die Hard,” “48 Hours” and other films, wrote, directed and produced this show, which stars Timothy Dalton and Joanne Whalley. The fictional series is conceived of as a collection of videos – confessionals, surveillance tapes – that aren't necessarily meant to be distributed.
What's most interesting about Strike.TV is seeing professionals like de Souza try their hand at a new medium. It's clear they're experimenting and adapting. The results may not be perfect, but de Souza compares this moment to the early days of film with sound or color.
De Souza made his six episodes near the end of the strike, working with a cast and crew that mostly deferred their fees. All cast and crew will get part of any profits.
For the first three months, profits will be donated to the Actors Fund's Entertainment Assistance Program, which helps industry professionals hurt by the strike.
Hyoguchi says Strike.TV isn't meant to beat the system. He says writers still need the studios to make a living.