STUDIO CITY, Calif. -- In recent years we've seen a lot of evidence that TV and the Internet share a reciprocal relationship. Networks share their stars' Twitter handles. Publicists send out press releases touting a program's buzz factor on social media sites. "Sharknado" happened.
Earlier this year one whole TV show was revamped with the influence of the Internet -- and an Internet brand -- at the heart of the makeover.
Syndicated entertainment news magazine "The Insider" became "omg! Insider" (7:30 Monday through Saturday, KDKA-TV), rebranding as part of a deal with Yahoo!'s omg! celebrity gossip/news site.
Launched in 2004 as a spinoff of "Entertainment Tonight," the show been through multiple formats (entertainment news, tabloid, panel discussion) and anchors (past hosts include Pat O'Brien and Lara Spencer). It morphed into its latest incarnation in January with Kevin Frazier and Thea Andrews as its primary on-air talent
"omg! Insider" is syndicated by CBS Television Distribution and, as on its sister show "ET," the plugs for other CBS properties run rampant, from culling news clips from "CBS This Morning" to on-set appearances by a "Big Brother" evictee. During a January show, Arsenio Hall just happened to be on the set when TV critics arrived so he could preview his upcoming return to late-night TV.
Now with the Yahoo! tie-in, the show also features Yahoo!-branded experts and personalities and is quick to jump on anything that generates social media buzz, even without corporate connections. The day after Syfy's "Sharknado" blew up Twitter last month, "omg! Insider" teased a "Sharknado" report throughout the broadcast.
"We're looking at it more like a conversation," said executive producer Brad Bessey, a former "ET" producer." We have an opportunity to create something that is a 24/7 sort of entertainment experience. We really take it seriously when we say we're doing a show that is part of people's social network."
"omg! Insider" also has freed its hosts to impart their opinions. In a conversation with an evicted "Big Brother" contestant last month, Mr. Frazier referred to another contestant who had made racist statements, saying, "You had no idea underneath it all she may have a hood tucked under her pillowcase."
Mr. Bessey said the show tries to infuse the news of the day with the hosts' personalities.
"We figure if we give the people the news at 7 or 7:30 at night, they probably already know the headline and even if we are 'breaking' the news, we can do that on our Yahoo! web partner OMG! We can do it on the radio," he said. "People already know so we want to add a little bit more personality, more perspective; and talk about building a community."
Mr. Frazier said the hosts try to be authentic in an attempt to differentiate "omg! Insider" from other entertainment news programs.
"All of these shows start to look the same because no one wants to have a voice, so that's our goal," he said.
"omg! Insider" tapes each day at 9 a.m. on the West Coast, but Mr. Bessey said it's still possible to insert a story later in the day. The show goes up on the satellite for local stations at 4 p.m. on the East Coast.
"What we found is that the trends happen in a 12-hour cycle so that if the Kardashians are trending now they will be trending tonight but if there is something huge that happens -- Lindsay Lohan goes to jail, not that she did today -- that trend would blow up instantly," he said. "So we do, as producers, build in some protective measures so we are able to update the show as trends develop throughout the day."
Rob Owen writes this Sunday TV column for Scripps Howard News Service. Contact him at: email@example.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.