[12/18/06 - 10:33 PM]
The L Word (R) Creator and Executive Producer, Ilene Chaiken, to Launch Venture to Extend the Well-Known Brand Into Online Social Networking WorlD.
The new site is described as "a vibrant, full-featured social network on the Web for lesbians and their friends."

[via press release from Showtime]


New York, NY -- December 18, 2006 -Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of Showtime Networks' groundbreaking prime time lesbian drama, "The L Word," and one of the television industry's leading pioneers, has partnered with a group of prominent women from the entertainment and technology worlds to form a new company called OurChart.com.

Launching in January, 2007, OurChart.com will be a vibrant, full-featured social network on the Web for lesbians and their friends. It is expected to be the first online social space built entirely to interconnect and engage this community and will feature original content, as well as encourage user-generated content. It will be both a destination and a jumping off point for lesbians on the Internet.

"I wanted to take the experience I have had telling stories on 'The L Word' and expand it to an interactive medium so that women can tell their own stories and share their own interests," said Chaiken.

OurChart's premise is inspired by one of the central story lines in "The L Word": a wall-sized, handwritten white-board "chart" designed to keep track of the various connections, especially the myriad hookups and heartbreaks among the show's many characters. OurChart.com will build a network of women into a real "Chart" in a unique and useful manner to allow users to connect their interests, hobbies, and communities and, if they choose, their love lives.

OurChart founding partners include "The L Word" cast members and accomplished actors, Jennifer Beals who plays Bette Porter, Katherine Moennig who plays Shane and Leisha Hailey who plays Alice. These actors will also contribute to the site by developing content for their fans that reflect their personal interests. "This is an exciting project for us, and a great extension of what our show is about" said Jennifer Beals. "For me, Kate and Leisha, it is a chance to broaden a conversation we started on 'The L Word', and have felt privileged to be a part of - about identity and community and the importance of representation." "I'm excited about this project for the same reasons that my character, Alice, created the Chart - because we all are compelled to, as Alice says, 'reach out from the alienation of modern life' in order to make connections," said Leisha Hailey.

Like hugely popular social networking sites, such as My Space, Facebook and Bebo, OurChart.com will facilitate connections of all kinds, but is aimed directly at gay women, as well as their friends and family. Although there are many lesbian-centered Web sites, discussion groups, classified listings and news outlets, there has never been an online social space that is strategically and conceptually aligned with a franchise phenomenon like "The L Word."

"The L Word" fans will have regular access to the show's creative team, exclusive material from the show, special insights and behind the scenes action on individual episodes. In addition, OurChart will commission original videos, stories and photos from prominent creative collaborators to feature exclusively on OurChart.com. "We hope," said Katherine Moennig, "that a wonderful variety of artists will help make this a home where people can have a great media experience."

The company's senior management team represents some of the most prominent women in the entertainment and technology worlds.

Ilene Chaiken, one of the entertainment industry's most accomplished female entrepreneurs and a leading television producer and writer, will be OurChart CEO. She has received numerous awards for her contribution to the LGBT community, some of which include: the 2006 GLAAD Media Award recognizing "The L Word" for Outstanding Drama Series; the 2005 Artistry Award from Power Up; the 2004 Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign; and the 2004 Community Role Model Award from the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

Founding partner Hilary Rosen will serve as President of OurChart. Rosen is a respected executive with many years of experience in online entertainment. She is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group representing the U.S. sound recording industry, where she served for 17 years before retiring in June 2003. For the last several years, she has served as an advisor to some of the industry's leading media companies. Rosen has also been an LGBT political leader for many years in Washington, D.C.

"Our top priority is that users find a welcoming environment when they visit OurChart.com," said Rosen. "It will also present marketers with a great opportunity to reach a consumer market that is targeted, financially independent and loyal," said Rosen.

Beth Callaghan, also a founding partner, will be Chief Operating Officer. Callaghan has served as Senior Director of Network Programming, Senior Director of Portal Operations and Editor-in-Chief of PlanetOut Inc., the largest gay and lesbian site on the Web.

OurChart.com has been formed as a joint venture with Showtime Networks Inc. "The launch of OurChart.com speaks to the many opportunities that exist now to expand the presence of a show beyond the traditional viewing experience," said Matthew C. Blank, Chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks. "It will bring the world of 'The L Word' to a whole new audience of fans."

  [december 2006]  


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