Vault - Industry Executive Interview
Neal - Sr. VP Original Content, KoldCast TV
Neal has Executive Produced an extensive amount
of reality-based series, including “E! True Hollywood
Story”. He is the Sr. VP of Original Content for
KoldCast TV, an internet TV Network developing
original productions for distribution and syndication
via the web and conventional TV.
Scott Manville, Founder of the TV Writers
Vault sat down with Neal for some insight on the
ever-expanding digital web series genre, and the
: Thanks for taking time out from your projects
to chat with us. How are things going in development
We currently have several projects in development
through KoldCast Studios, including an edgy talk
show featuring a popular syndicated columnist
and a provocative “reality” series, the latter
a co-production with an acclaimed Hollywood filmmaker.
A number of other promising original productions
are in the pipeline. We are also in dialogue
with Documentary and Independent filmmakers, along
with several established production companies
from around the country, to acquire and distribute
: Can you give us an overview of KoldCast TV?
What are some activities and goals of the company?
KoldCast TV is all about choice and flexibility
– providing Viewers with compelling content, delivered
on-demand, in an easy-to-navigate and entertaining
environment. In terms of original productions,
we believe there are some very talented people
out there who simply never get the chance to squeeze
through the dime-sized Hollywood pipeline.
We can provide at least some of them with that
chance. Further, we’re accessible and highly-responsive.
And, unlike other ITV portals, we provide a number
of value-added services, without cost, to our
Content Partners which, we’ re told, are highly-valued
and greatly appreciated. We’re completing
the first phase “Beta: Take One” release of KoldCast
this month. Our “Take Two,” release, which
follows relatively soon thereafter, brings additional
and more immediate monetization opportunities
to KoldCast TV and its partners. Our primary
goal at this time is simply to increase Content,
Viewers and Cash Flow! Easy, huh?
: You come from the world of Network producing.
What has the jump been like to web-series production?
Are the challenges similar? Benefits?
Don Hewitt, former EP of 60
Minutes, had a mantra he repeated over
and over to his producers and reporters: “Tell
me a story!” He was right then and I believe
he’s right now – regardless of the medium.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for off-the-wall
user generated content – clearly YouTube and others
have proved there is – but we think viewers still
crave professionally produced product and that’s
our model. Still, there are some fundamental
differences between conventional TV and Internet
TV. Here are two major differences: (1)
production costs, at least for the foreseeable
future, need to be substantially lower for Internet
TV; and, (2) TRT is also vastly different – the
sweet spot for Internet TV still seems to be in
the 3-5 minute range vs. 30-60 minutes for conventional
TV. However, like conventional TV, the competition
is fierce, so the concept better be unique and
: We’ve seen an influx of web-based projects getting
picked up by mainstream media. Is getting a web-series
sold to NBC, for example, the end all be all?
If a deal can be done with a conventional television
network that furthers our goals and benefits our
viewers, that’ s an exciting proposition. The
TV networks are, and will remain, a powerful force
in the industry. But it’s not simply about bragging
rights, it’s about making the right choices. An
end all be all? Not at all!
: Advertiser support is obviously something you
try to wrap around any web distributed content.
Do you have those elements in place for projects
at KoldCast TV, or are you more focused on the
development and production of content to be handed
off to other outlets.
As you know, advertising comes in many shapes
and sizes. We’re predominantly interested
in series and show sponsorships and certain forms
of product placement and branded entertainment.
We have just now reached the point where these
elements have become important to us. We’re working
on several projects where we believe we can provide
such Sponsors with genuine and measurable benefits.
“Relevancy” is critical to advertising success,
so matching an advertiser to the right property
is our primary objective. We are about to
begin pre-production on a new KoldCast TV series
that offers an incredible opportunity to the right
advertiser/sponsor; from the get-go, we’re highly
confident that we’ll be bringing several million
viewers to this respective series. We believe
we have the right elements in place to affect
such a valuable sponsorship, but the next month
or so will tell us if we’re on target.
also just began work on finding a sponsor for
a KoldCast distributed show, but we are challenged
by the cutting edge nature of the show’s content,
despite the enormous attention the show has received
in mainstream media. That said, our business
model, much of which the market has not yet seen
from us, brings other material revenue-generating
opportunities to bear. These new revenue
sources are likely to far outpace conventional
advertising for the next few years while the major
advertisers continue their move into Internet
: Here’s a very broad question for your very broad
opinion. What do you think the Internet has done
for the creative community, such as Writers and
As mentioned earlier, the Internet is giving voice
to many talented artists who would otherwise never
get the chance to strut their stuff.
KoldCast was initially founded to widen
the pipeline in Hollywood and we remain vigilantly
committed to this.
: You're not only a Producer, but a member of
the Writers Guild of America as well. How do you
feel about the strikes resolution and the role
writers have in new media?
I believe the WGA negotiating committee did the
best they could and the deal, while certainly
not perfect, was fair and reasonable. I
voted ‘yes’ and most of my WGA friends did as
well. The web, of course, was one of the
primary points of contention leading to the strike
yet the studio execs were right in describing
it as the “wild, wild west” and therefore nearly
impossible to quantify. The Internet picture
will undoubtedly be much clearer when this latest
contract is up and we, the writers, may need 301
Spartans to fight that war!
: What makes good content for a reality series?
Great characters, a compelling story, and plenty
of legit drama. Some sort of competition
element is also a plus, depending on the concept.
And, of course, every show needs the creative
touch of a talented writer and story-teller. I
recall a print ad featuring the iconic scene from
I Love Lucy
where Lucy and Ethyl were manning the assembly
line in a chocolate factory. Suddenly, the machine
went haywire. In an effort to keep up, they frantically
began stuffing their mouths with chocolates. The
caption read: “Remember, somebody wrote that.”
: Although we see many reality shows that are
derivative of others, how much of today’s reality
TV is driven by original “idea”?
There are very few truly original ideas.
For example, old reliable Regis Philbin is back
Dollar Password on CBS. The concept
dates back to the early 60’s. Go figure!
The gems are certainly out there – they’re just
really tough to dig up.
: If you’re creating a new show, as a Producer,
what is the most important element needed for
it go the distance and survive the development
and pitching stages?
A great concept, the right people to execute it,
and persistence with a capital “P.” It also
helps to be a little crazy, and for all the stars
: What’s your opinion of a service such as the
TV Writers Vault? Do you believe in “virtual”
I have been perusing the Vault for talented writers/concepts.
I believe it’s a valuable service that we intend
to mine on behalf of our Viewers. I look forward to the addition of the web-based
category. As for a “virtual” Hollywood,
I think we’re already there.
What’s your view on the multiplatform entertainment
world, say, five years from now?
Television and the computer will be interchangeable
– and content will be shared among many multi-media
devices. I heard a recent talk by Eric Schmidt,
Google Chairman & CEO, in which he said the
greatest challenge for Internet-based companies
over the next five years will be to cut through
the myriad of choices (i.e., the crap) and present
the ‘good stuff’ in an organized, accessible format.
At the risk of sounding self-serving, the KoldCast
management team that recruited me said the same
thing more than two years ago and that’s what
we’ve been doing all along.
: Thanks again for your time and thoughts. Good
luck with new developments at KoldCast!
Thanks, Scott. Very thoughtful questions!
And best of luck with TV Writer’s Vault – nicely