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Felicia Day on 'The Guild' deal with Microsoft

December 16, 2008 |  7:33 pm

Many might recognize Felicia Day from a recent Cheetos commercial, in which she throws a handful of the orange snack into someone else's dryer at the laundromat. But for a dedicated niche, she is the much-loved writer, producer and costar of the Web show "The Guild."

The show, which first aired on YouTube last summer, has risen from modest roots to a Microsoft distribution deal, similar to the one Microsoft has with NBC to distribute shows such as "30 Rock," "The Office" and "Heroes." Day was approached by a number of companies with offers, but the Microsoft contract fit best, she said. "We just turned down a lot of deals," Day said.

The agreement ensures exclusive distribution for four weeks up to the end of the season. After that, Day may post the videos on YouTube, where the show initially took off.

She held out for a contract that would afford her ownership of her intellectual property and creative control. "Traditional media outlets, whether they're online or mainstream, tend to want to own property," she said.

Ironically, Day's initial plan was to turn "The Guild" into a TV show. (The first pilot was a half-hour long.) TV executives said the script was funny but had ...

...  a lot of terminology they didn't understand. "Even at that time, over a year ago, people didn't understand that people played online together," she said.

The show follows a group of computer gamers through their daily lives, peppered with Web speak and gaming references. "The Guild" was able to reach initial success by working from the inside out, appealing to an online niche of video game players and then expanding through word of mouth and social media buzz.

Episodes of the second season can be downloaded free through Xbox Live, Zune and MSN -- and in high-definition, even.

It's a big step up from the first season's episodes, which were filmed using a cheap, hand-held camera. Still, longtime fans have found things to nitpick. "I've had complaints about production value," Day said. "It's too nice now." Go figure.

In addition to running "The Guild," Day is signed on to act in five episodes of the ABC Family show "Roommates." And, who knows, she might show up in more Cheetos commercials at some point.

"The Guild" Christmas special was made available today, and new episodes air Tuesdays. Check out The Times' exclusive preview for next week's episode (top).

-- Mark Milian

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