Their So-Called Site Rejected by ABC, two TV veterans are launching a Web series and a social network at the same time. Will the kids respond?

By Amy Wallace

It's a fair question for Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, the Emmy-winning writing-producing-directing team: Why are two fiftysomethings-the guys who brought us the '80s TV series Thirtysomething-creating and bankrolling a social network and an online TV program aimed at twentysomethings?

Back in 2004, Herskovitz and Zwick made a pilot for a series then called �life for ABC. The network passed. Last year, the pair talked to ABC again about reworking the show but couldn't agree on its direction. So Herskovitz and Zwick went to their agents at Creative Artists Agency for help plotting a strategy to resuscitate the project online, as Quarterlife. The outcome? The producers are breaking the cardinal rule of Hollywood: They're financing the experiment themselves.

Quarterlife debuted on MySpaceTV on November 11 with the first of 36 eight-minute episodes. The show purports to be of ?TV quality (read: expensive to produce) and centers on Dylan, a young woman who keeps a video blog (itself called Quarterlife) about her travails in life and love. Herskovitz and Zwick will split advertising revenue 50-50 with MySpace, which is getting the content for free. (The series will also be shown on, and Herskovitz and Zwick will keep all ad revenue from that stream.) "We're spending a lot more than we necessarily know we're going to be able to recoup," Zwick says, declining to be more specific. "Will advertisers be willing to support that? It's a big gamble."

If a Web series were all the duo was up to, little would distinguish them from other creative folks-Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park), to name a few-who have recently forged deals to take their content to the Web. But Herskovitz and Zwick see their new venture as a jumping-off point for something larger: a Web community that encourages members to display their creativity. The hope is that fans of the fictional Quarterlife series will visit and decide to stay.

Will succeed in stealing users from Facebook and its own partner, MySpace? If it does, it will join a growing field of niche networks (such as for baby boomers) that are trying to chip away at the behemoths. "The great myth about most social networks is that they're communities," says venture capitalist Paul Kedrosky, who writes the blog Infectious Greed. "Everybody on them has nothing in common-other than being on them."

Zwick knows that some will question whether a site created by guys in their third quarter of life will appeal to an audience just entering its second. "But we were in our forties when we did My So-Called Life," he says of their series on teens. "How old was Salinger when he wrote about Holden Caulfield?"

Visit for the latest business news and opinion, executive profiles and careers.© 2007 Condé Nast Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor's Pick

Business News

Opening a New McDonald's Franchise Will Be More Expensive in 2024

Starting January 1, franchise royalty fees will rise from 4% to 5% for new locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Business News

'Bar Tab Was Almost 80%': Restaurant Slams Well-Known Columnist After He Goes Viral For Claiming His Meal Cost $78

A photo of a burger and fries from 1911 Smokehouse BBQ at Newark Airport went viral for its alleged price, but the restaurant says the man didn't factor in his many alcoholic drinks.

Health & Wellness

The Art of the Power Nap — How to Sleep Your Way to Maximum Productivity

Whether you're shooting for the NBA finals or growing your business, a quick snooze can be a secret weapon.

Business News

'An Absolute Prize': Rare Great Depression $10,000 Bill Sells For Nearly $500,000

The $10,000 bill is from 1934 and was never in circulation.

Business News

Here's the Secret to Growing Your Small Business, According to Execs at UPS, Airbnb, Mastercard, and Other Big Brands

These 10 executives work at big companies, overseeing programs that help small business. Here's the advice they wish all small business owners were getting.