Justine Ezarik, 22, of Carnegie, is among five national finalists in the Yahoo! Talent Show. Yahoo's competition for best online videos is aimed at the ever-growing user-generated video community.
Ezarik's videos were chosen out of more than 5,000 entries. Her videos are online, under the user name "ijustine," along with those of the other finalists. The grand-prize winner gets a development deal to star in or produce a show for Yahoo and $50,000.
Contestants go through three online video challenges, which are posted at the Yahoo site. They'll post their final challenge -- a pilot program -- on Dec. 11. Yahoo users and judges will vote on the entries on Dec. 12 and 13. The winner will be announced Dec. 14, with the winning entry airing that day.
The four other finalists are: Rex Hermogino of San Diego, Renzhe Parkour of Sanford, Fla., Ben Grinnell of West Hollywood, Calif. and Stanley Sowa Jr. of Chicago.
COME ALL YE COMICS: HBO and AOL are teaming up for the launch of a new broadband comedy site in January.
"This Just In" will feature topical humor based on current events and pop culture, with the potential to develop new programming for use elsewhere on HBO. It replaces AOL's Comedy Channel site.
Heading the new venture is Steve Stanford, founder of the early comedy site Icebox.com.
PROCRASTINATING KIDS WHO HAVEN'T GOTTEN AROUND TO WRITING A LETTER TO SANTA may want to shoot him an e-mail instead.
The Santa e-mail site gives kids an easy way to compose and send e-mails, plus a lot more.
They can fill out an online questionnaire to determine if they're naughty or nice with the site's Incredible Elf-o-matic Naughty or Nice Determinator And they can view live Web-cam images from around the world, get Santa's autograph, read other kids' e-mails to Santa, play games and more.
And there's a counter ticking off the seconds, minutes and days until Dec. 25, so one can literally see how fast time flies.
The nice folks at this site also have guidelines for parents on letting their kids use Web sites safely. There's even a link to children's help lines.
EVERYBODY HAS THEIR FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES. The British Web site alt.flix has compiled a list of their top choices, arranged like an advent calendar, with each window leading to a link to the day's film.
The list features perennial favorites such as: "The Muppets Christmas Carol," "White Christmas," "Miracle on 34th Street," a Chocolate Factory double bill with "Willly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," all leading to the No. 1 pick -- "It's A Wonderful Life," for Dec. 24.
There are a few non-season offerings tossed in, too, including "Groundhog Day" and "The Great Escape."
CHARLES DICKENS' "A CHRISTMAS CAROL" has been adapted to many media over the years. So the time is right for "A Podcast Christmas Carol."
Podcast Pickle, an audio and video podcast site, created this online radio play. This is an updated twist -- Scrooge owns a radio station, doesn't want to give away free promo announcements to help the local homeless shelter or play demo records by new artists. He's haunted by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley (who has a Jamaican accent).
It's easy to guess how it all ends, but the podcast's anti-commercial message is an uplifting one.
Adrian McCoy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org