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MSN, BermanBraun to create celebrity-focused site

June 04, 2008|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp. is teaming up with BermanBraun, a Santa Monica production firm, to create an online destination to tap consumers' near obsession with celebrities.

The yet-unnamed venture should launch early next year, Rob Bennett, general manager of entertainment, video and sports for Microsoft's MSN, said Tuesday.

The site is expected to offer more than just news headlines provided by numerous celebrity-focused websites, magazines and TV shows. The goal is to carve out lucrative online real estate for advertisers who are willing to pay a premium to get their messages embedded in the content.

Neither Bennett nor Lloyd Braun, the former Yahoo Inc. and ABC television executive who founded BermanBraun with former Fox television and Paramount Pictures executive Gail Berman, would discuss their financial arrangement.

BermanBraun has been developing shows for TV networks, including ABC's game show "Duel," but has long planned to create a digital studio that would develop content for the Web.

If successful, the two companies could license the content to other websites, similar to television syndication deals.

Braun conceded that there was no shortage of celebrity news. "We are still working out with MSN what the final road map will be," he said.

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meg.james@latimes.com

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