Tom Hanks to Create and Star in Animated Sci-Fi Show on Yahoo

Tom Hanks has created an animated science-fiction show that initially will stream exclusively on Yahoo in what is the giant Internet portal’s first foray into narrative storytelling, the partners are set to announce Monday.

The show, called Electric City, is a production of Reliance Entertainment and Playtone, the latter being a TV and film company owned by Hanks and Gary Goetzman.

Hanks will voice the lead character in Electric City and Yahoo will roll out about 20 episodes, each one roughly four minutes long, beginning in the spring.

Yahoo already boasts a portfolio of several news-information shows that attract a combined 26 million viewers monthly, but Electric City is its first scripted narrative, and Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo’s executive vp Americas, says there’s more in development.

“Not just shows, but real experiences. We’re looking to build franchises,” he said.

Electric City, for example, could also be a game, and if the show proves popular it could work its way to home video, TV and even a 90-minute theatrical release.

Financial terms of the relationship weren’t disclosed.

“This is the most money we’ve ever spent on a scripted show. Of course, it’s also the first scripted show,” Levinsohn quipped.

Hanks and Levinsohn plan to show snippets of Electric City during a 45-minute, invitation-only presentation Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Levinsohn says the show is another example of Yahoo’s effort to strengthen its reputation as a legitimate entertainment company. Along those lines, it partnered last week with Will Ferrell’s and Judd Apatow’s Funny or Die on a 13-minute parody of a Republican presidential debate hosted by Larry King.

The company is also creating a Yahoo Comedy Channel that will kick off with a live stream Feb. 23 of CrazyStupidPolitics: Bill Maher Live from Silicon Valley.

Peter Oberth
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