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Tom Hanks Goes Digital with Yahoo! Animated Web Series 'Electric City,' Voices Lead: "No one gets rich" (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 17, 2012 at 1:34PM

At Comic-Con last weekend, web series were part of the story, as Bryan Singer and Tom Hanks both unveiled new onlie ventures. Tuesday Yahoo! launches the first ten 4-7-minute episodes of Hanks’ animated dystopian sci-fi adventure “Electric City." The next ten installments will be released on July 18 and 19.
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'Electric City'
'Electric City'

At Comic-Con last weekend, web series were part of the story, as Bryan Singer and Tom Hanks both unveiled new online ventures. Tuesday, while the headlines tout Yahoo!'s new boss Marissa Mayer, the web portal launches the first ten 4-7-minute episodes of Hanks’ animated dystopian sci-fi adventure “Electric City." The next ten installments will be released on July 18 and 19.

Heinlein fan Hanks has been developing the Reliance Entertainment-backed project for some two years at Playtone. The well-written, handsomely animated series immediately draws you into its polluted future world, in which rebel grandmothers fight against mob gangsters via hunky hired assassin Cleveland Carr, voiced by Hanks. (His blond love interest runs a radio show, natch.) Do-good killer Carr operates in a primitive post-apocalyptic low-tech society with no power grid and danger around every corner.  The NYT spoke to Hanks here and Singer here.

Hanks has long been a prolific producer, from HBO's "Band of Brothers" and "Pacific" with Steven Spielberg, to "Big Love."
He has no expectations of making money on "Electric City"; Reliance wants the content for all the mobile phone users in India, Yahoo wants clicks on a page, and it's fun to create with freedom, Hanks told the NYT:

"They say, 'Let us pay you to create content,' and we say, 'Great, because we have this content we’re really excited about.' But the caveat is, no one gets rich. Everybody got a check for doing this. I don’t think anybody makes money at this thing. But they get the freedom in order to do whatever they want to do. And that’s palpable, man. That gets everybody excited. We get to do whatever we want to do here? Yeah, you do. Well, sign us up, we got another 20 story ideas. And it could go on and on and on forever."

Yahoo! has also built an interactive online site for the series including a 3-D map of Electric City, behind-the-scenes footage and games. Based on the impact of Yahoo's inetractive viral marketing (see video and trailer below), there may be an audience for this.

Jeanne Tripplehorn (“Big Love”), Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”), Ginnifer Goodwin ("Walk the Line"), Jason Antoon, Chris Parnell, Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Georg Stanford Brown round out the sprawling voice cast.

Here's the “Electric City” synopsis:

This article is related to: Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Online, Yahoo!, Sci-fi


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.