Jack Black, our favorite little fat guy, people’s hero and rock god, will executive produce — and occasionally star in– a new series for VH-1 that gives power to the people. Or does it? The Department of Acceptable Media is a show that began as a forum for aspiring TV-makers, but somewhere along the line turned into just another MadTV hopeful.
Acceptable Media is one idea that didn’t come from the Internet, but a monthly live event that Black and his partners created as a showcase for aspiring TV producers. Channel 101 screens five-minute “pilots” and lets the audience vote for their favorites.
The VH1 show will work the same way. Viewers will vote online; the top vote-getters continue to a second “episode”– while the others are “canceled.” The goal for viewers is to keep their favorite “series” on air as long as possible.
There’s a little difference with this series. No, a big difference. Each week, only one episode per show will come from the great unwashed amateur world. Most of the two- to three-minute shorts will be written and produced by Jack Black and his partners Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab.
Jack, what happened? When the series was set up at FX a couple of years ago, it looked a lot more like the original Channel 101. But as talks began with VH1, their forum for talented wannabes devolved into another slick Hollywood comedy show. Harmon says it’s because the material screened at Channel 101 became more “legitimate.” Then he admits he began seeing the series as sketch comedy show that could compete with MadTV and Saturday Night Live.
VH1 is also hoping for material that will have an afterlife on the Internet, like “Lazy Sunday,” the SNL fluke that became a viral phenomenon (creators Andy Samberg and his partners are vets of Channel 101 vets). Scripted material is more certain bet for that kind of success as well.
Harmon says it’s possible the “user-generated content” will be better than his own scripted stuff, and that if it is, we’ll see more of it after the series debuts in the Spring. Then again, he and his partners will be the ones doing the judging.
See, the powers in Hollywood have a secret: It all looks easy. And it is. That’s why they make it hard for outsiders to work their way in. And The Department of Acceptable Media proves the adage– even though, on the surface, it’s creating a democracy.
Jack Black should be funny, though.
(And enter TVgasm’s Jack Black-Tenacious D giveaway contest here!)
– Tabloid Baby