Producer Jon Avnet -- known for legendary films such as Black Swan and Risky Business -- has teamed with actress Virginia Madsen, Academy Award-nominated for Sideways, to create WIGS, or "Where It Gets Interesting," a premium YouTube channel that produces high-end scripted series, short films and docs centered around quality roles for women.
The idea germinated at a lunch between Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs, In Treatment), where they bonded over the desire to create quality entertainment and complex roles for women, stemming from their individual work with female-centric films, such as Avnet's acclaimed Fried Green Tomatoes.
"On our show, the men are the eye candy," Avnet quips.
With an experienced pool of "currently unemployed and very employable friends," this idea grew into a fully operating channel. Internet culture at its best!
"It's also great because we were able to get female directors and female writers. And for years, as many people in Hollywood know, this was an all boys club," Avnet adds.
That's a strong part of Ms. Madsen's motivation to join such a project, along with the compelling new media aspect. "I believe that this is clearly where our industry is going," she says. "I think that we're on the ground floor of what is going to become the centerpiece of the entertainment industry."
Madsen also beamingly admits that she's wanted to work with Avnet since she auditioned for Risky Business when she was roughly 17 years old. "This gave us an opportunity to work in a really free, creative environment with his beautiful writing," Madsen says. "And I have to say it's hard to find great material. That's a common thing that women say, but it's very true."
The WIGS audience will see that the videos are divided between different storylines, which is a testament to the innovation that the YouTube platform provides.
"We spent so much time and effort trying to compete on a quality level with cable and network, and we think what we shot is quite good, so we wanted to show it in as pristine an environment as possible," Avnet says.
What's also impressive about WIGS is that it boasts traditionally successful talent who recognize that online entertainment is emerging as a prime source for content. Avnet points out that Jennifer Garner and Alfred Molina's piece aired on Tuesday, with Julia Stiles and Jeanne Tripplehorn's segment launching on June 11.
The first handful of episodes available now feature Caitlin Gerard, Madsen, Stephen Moyer, Kyle Gallner, Jaime Murray and Laura Spencer.
"Can YouTube combat sexism in Hollywood?" I asked. "No, but we can make fun of it and we can play with and use it our advantage!" Madsen jokes.
Avnet notes that half of the directors working on the first 100 episodes that they shot are female -- an unheard of gender ratio in Hollywood. "Instead of complaining about what isn't, we tried to create a world of what is. And what is is WIGS."