AOL Unveils Projects with James Franco, Ellen DeGeneres & More


TORONTO: AOL has presented its new slate of original programming, which includes projects from James Franco, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zoe Saldana, Ellen DeGeneres and others.

Making a Scene with James Franco was born out of Franco's love for movies. Each episode will see Franco and one or more fellow artists discussing their favorite scenes from Hollywood cinema. Kevin Nealon's Laugh Lesson boasts executive producers such as DeGeneres, Nealon, Jeff Kleeman, Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner and Mary Connelly. In it, comedians must teach children the art of comedy.

Inspired features A-list celebrities, visionaries and some of the biggest news makers of the generation recounting stories behind their most life-changing moments of inspiration. It comes from NewForm, a digital studio that is a partnership between Discovery Communications, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Craig Jacobson, Ed Wilson, Jim Wiatt and Michael Rosenberg.

Saldana is executive producing My Hero and will also star in one of the episodes. The show features celebrities paying a surprise tribute to a person that changed their life. There's also Win/Win, in which the biggest names in business join a famous athlete for a day of honest conversation, fun and insights. That's Racist, produced by Andrew Fried for Boardwalk Pictures, features actor and comedian Mike Epps as he explores the back stories of stereotypes.

So Much More tells the story of punk singer Tom Gabel of Against Me!, who has come out as a transgendered woman. It is produced by AOL Studios. Follow Me documents the lives of modern-day digital creators who are redefining the definition of celebrity.

Also on the roster is The Road to Disrupt, a 12-episode doc series about start-up companies competing in the San Francisco TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield. In Short is a five-episode series that features actors such as Katie Holmes, Jeff Garlin, Alia Shawkat and James Purefoy going behind the camera to create their own short-form documentaries.

Connected marks AOL's foray into long-form video series. Based on an Israeli format, the series follows the lives of five seemingly disconnected New Yorkers as they explore the concept of family in NYC. #CandidlyNicole returns, featuring Nicole Richie. Also returning is City.Ballet, The Future Starts Here and Hardwired 2.0.

AOL also announced an exclusive advertising partnership in Canada with GroupM.

"We are extremely proud to be delivering a slate of original programming that is reaching audiences on a global scale,” said Charles Gabriel, global senior VP of video sales. “GroupM's recognition of the value of this programming for their client portfolio in Canada is an exciting moment in media."

"This opportunity with AOL is another manifestation of GroupM's commitment to support and create original quality production. We are very excited to offer our clients the opportunity to access content that will live across many screens and platforms,” said Stuart Garvie, chief commercial officer for Canada at GroupM.

“It is this kind of premium content that sets AOL apart for consumers and advertisers alike,” said Joe Strolz, the general manager at AOL Canada. “At AOL, we continue to invest in authentic voices and original stories to enhance the digital experience across platforms. We are thrilled to see this investment coming as well from our media partners and are looking forward to exploring with GroupM and its valued clients how best to deliver their brand messaging within this premium video experience.”