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Amazon to sell, rent Web drama

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The Web-based teen soap opera "Prom Queen" is being offered as a full-length download on Amazon.com Inc.’s Unbox video store, taking its place for the first time along Hollywood films and TV shows.

"Prom Queen" was produced by Vuguru, a new media studio backed by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. It ran for 80 episodes on the Internet, with the finale appearing June 20.

The individual episodes, each running about three to four minutes, are still available on the Web. The version on Unbox plays as a full-length film, 130 minutes long, with an extra 10 minutes of exclusive footage added to help smooth the transitions between episodes.

The series, which was recently nominated for an interactive Emmy award, can be rented for $3.99 for 30 days or purchased for $9.99.

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The availability of the show on Amazon is an indication of Eisner’s vision that treats Web-based shows the same as entertainment created by more traditional Hollywood studios. "Prom Queen" is the highest profile example of a Web-based show being sold in a second "window" on home video.

"I see ’Prom Queen’ and other properties like that as just like TV shows and I think, more important, the ’Prom Queen’ audience doesn’t make much of a distinction between the episodes they see on their PC and episodes of their favorite show they watch on television," said Roy Price, director of digital video at Amazon.com.

Web-based shows are still in their infancy, viewed by far fewer than catch the latest episode of "24" or "Desperate Housewives."

But shows such as "LonelyGirl15" and "Sam Has 7 friends" have built sizable and loyal Internet audiences, leading some, including Eisner, to believe they will grow in popularity and legitimacy as Internet video gets piped into TV sets and mobile devices, such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

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