TV's Next Hit May Come from the Country's Fringes

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This story is the fifth of a five-part series.


Producer Jason Goldberg is Ashton Kutcher's partner in Katalyst Films: "We felt that there was nobody communicating to youth culture at all — honestly communicating to youth culture." hide caption

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Katalyst's Resume So Far

The company also has a reality series, and other shows, in development.

  • Guess Who: Kutcher starred in this 2005 movie, a twist on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
  • Beauty and the Geek: This reality show on the CW network, which debuted on the WB in 2005, pairs lookers and nerds to compete in challenges for prize money.
  • The Butterfly Effect: Supernatural thriller, released in 2004, starred Kutcher as a man who learns more about the memory blackouts he suffers.
  • Punk'd: The MTV reality series, with Kutcher playing pranks on his celebrity friends, first aired in 2003.

Source: IMDB

In the Works

A partial list of upcoming Katalyst projects:

  • Adventures in Hollyhood: Reality series about rap group Three 6 Mafia, airs on MTV in April.
  • Game Show in My Head: In this game-show pilot, contestants interact with unsuspecting participants on the street.
  • Daisy Dooley Does Divorce: Comedy is in development at ABC.
  • Sources: IMDB and Katalyst

Conventional advertising wisdom holds that if you are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, there's a decent chance you may not yet have settled on which brand of soda, denim or shampoo you like.

You might be more apt to try something new — and that makes you the kind of viewer that most television program sponsors would love to reach. The question is, how?

Television producer Jason Goldberg has done a decent job of figuring that out. With actor Ashton Kutcher, Goldberg created the MTV hit Punk'd, an update of Candid Camera where the prank victims happen to be celebrities.

Punk'd was such a hit when it debuted in 2003 that MTV ran half-hour episodes 50 times a week.

Now, Kutcher and Goldberg's Katalyst Films is looking for its next big success. Katalyst deploys "street teams," or hipster lookouts who watch kids in places you might not expect, such as Oklahoma and industrial cities in the Midwest.

In those more remote areas, kids feel so alienated and overlooked that they are inventing their own culture.

This, Goldberg says, is where the next big TV/Internet hit lies. His tip: To find something new that will capture 18-to-24-year old viewers, look to the outsiders.

Goldberg doesn't claim to know the fate of networks, and the mode of programming delivery at this point remains fluid. But he does have one prediction to make: "I do feel that content will always be king."

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