It was bound to happen some time soon, but it appears that 2012 is the year that web-based television -- webivision? -- will go mainstream. TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld made the revelation on Monday morning. "We are less than ten days into 2012, but here is a prediction that is easy to make: We are going to see a lot of original Web TV shows announced this year with big stars," he wrote, pegging his sage-like blog post about the future of online-only teevee content to the news that Tom Hanks is going to launch a new animated web series called Electric City on Yahoo. "On the surface, the Electric City is utopia," Yahoo's head of original programming Erin McPherson told the AP, " and under the surface Electric City is secrets and heavy-handed state control." What a good metaphor for the future of webivision! (Also, Yahoo has an original programming department?) Since, we've had a hard time keeping track of the proliferation of star-studded webivision projects, so we made a list about it.
Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. In an attempt to wriggle free of Hollywood's suffocating grip on its content, Netflix is getting into the original programming business this year with House of Cards. When we first heard the name of the show and its star, we secretly wished it were a TV sequel series of sorts to the terribly fun movie 21. It's not.
Steven van Zandt in Lilyhammer. Netflix is really serious about this original programming business. Well before House of Cards is due out, the site will launch Lilyhammer, a fun-sounding New York gangster show set in Norway. The star Steven van Zandt is not only the same guy who used to be in The Sopranos; he's the same guy who once worked as Bruce Springsteen's lead guitiarist. It's reportedly set for a February premiere.
Everybody in Arrested Development. Did we mention that Netflix is serious about its webivision strategy? Arrested Development will return for one season on Netflix only later this year.