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His MySpace odyssey

David Lehre's Internet-launched `MySpace: The Movie' launches his career as well.

February 25, 2006|Susan Carpenter | Times Staff Writer

"I just thought it was a really cool idea, and then that he had all his friends and they put together the movie outside the system and put it up on the Internet was amazing to me," said Scott Vener, a Beverly Hills manager who happened to catch "MySpace: The Movie" the day it was uploaded to YouTube.com.

Within 30 minutes of watching the film, Vener had tracked down Lehre's phone number to talk about the possibility of managing him. Vener is a manager with Schiffco, an agency that represents Eminem, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani and other big names for TV and film projects.

By Feb. 4, Lehre's website was getting so much traffic it crashed.

On Feb. 6, Lehre got an e-mail from MySpace's Anderson, saying, "how come you haven't uploaded your film to myspace?" Anderson said he'd been tipped to the film by a MySpace user, suggesting the movie be shut down for copyright violations.

"I thought it was funny and didn't care," said Anderson. "Users have made commercials about MySpace. There's a bunch of songs. They're making T-shirts and all kinds of other things about it, so it's just kind of the next step."

MySpace, which launched about 2 1/2 years ago, has more than 58 million users. Despite its current sign-up rate of 200,000 new members a day, the site's been lambasted of late -- by schools and religious groups for lewd and threatening posts, and by users for getting too corporate since its purchase by News Corp. last summer. In addition, within the last year, several charges of sexual assault have been brought against men accused of using the site to find underage girls. None of those controversies figure into the movie, which skewers the gargantuan cultural phenomenon.

"MySpace: The Movie" has gotten so much play online that it's spawned its own imitators, spoofs and sequels, e.g., "MySpace: The Movie Trailer," "The Real MySpace Movie" and "MySpace: The Movie #2."

None is giving the original much competition.

Since mid-February, Lehre's film has been in rotation on Current TV -- a recently launched "national network created by, for and with an 18- to 34-year-old audience" that reaches 20 million U.S. homes.

Three days ago, Lehre was offered a development deal with MTVU, MTV's on-air, online and on-campus network. MTVU's "content more and more is the content students are creating, so the channels become not just a channel for college students but a channel by college students," said MTVU's head of programming, Ross Martin.

The deal, which hasn't yet been inked, includes Lehre producing content and appearing as on-air talent for MTVU and MTVU's broadband service, Uber. "The whole point here is to incubate and develop [Lehre's] talent even further as we showcase it," Martin said.

The MTVU deal wasn't entirely based on "MySpace: The Movie." The film was one of many segments Lehre sent Martin on a DVD demo that had a pilot for a variety show, a music video for the fake boy band Heat Street and spoofs of the TV shows "Iron Chef" ("Happy Chef!") and "Survivor" ("Disease Island").

"I want to be able to have the freedom in the entertainment industry to produce anything I want at any given time and to have a lot of fun doing it," Lehre said, describing his ultimate goal.

From the looks of the last month, it seems he's well on his way.

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