Posted by: Jon Fine on August 27, 2006
So late last week I made a bunch of phone calls and sent a bunch of emails and youtube messages regarding the ongoing soap opera of lonelygirl15—the allegedly home-schooled 16 year-old named Bree whose channel on youtube is, as of this writing, the most-viewed on the entire site today.
Judging from the comments of more than one person (and, though I’m sorry to add to the layers of murk here, each refused to talk to me if I quoted them), a likely scenario goes something like this:
Lonelygirl15 is not “real,” but, contrary to some early speculation, the videos are not part of a viral marketing campaign dreamed up by some major advertiser, nor some music marketing company, nor a promotional stunt set up by one of the Viacoms or NBCs of the world.
Rather, it’s the product of a coterie of smart and not-yet-massively-famous performers (and, perhaps, others). These people, or their representatives, have had discussions with at least one major company regarding a deal to produce what I take to be short-form serial stuff on the Web.
And said coterie may be closing in on (or has already gotten) representation from a major talent agency.
Also late last week, I got a very brief email in response to messages I sent to lonelygirl15 on youtube, which was signed Bree and very politely declined my request for an interview. Which came from an email address that had Bree in its name—but showed up in my email box as coming from Jane Jones.
Jane Jones is very close to being a totally ungoogle-able name, and couldn’t sound more like an alias if it was Jane Doe. This may mean nothing, but there’s at least one major theatrical credit to a Jane Jones.
My neck hurts from all the time I’ve spent peering down this rabbit hole. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point to the blog entry the New York Times’s Virginia Heffernan posted last night, which suggests one of lonelygirl15’s sharpest debunkers who’s written some interestingly-worded blog posts (scroll down to the one called “Lonelygirl15 Jumps The Shark” and read the ending) on the matter, the faux-documentarian Brian Flemming, has some interesting ties to all this. For one thing, he has a movie slated to come out next year called Danielle—which was originally called The Beast.
More to come? Undoubtedly.
UPDATE 8/28: Brian Flemming emails to say “it’s not me,” and provides link to a just-up blog post on which he denies all:
To be clear: I am not involved in any way in LG15, other than as an outside observer. I have no connection to Bree or Daniel or any other performers or creators of the LG15 phenomenon. When I made the comment, I had no intention of soliciting the speculation that has resulted, and I am surprised to see that it happened. Frankly, the last thing I want is publicity for Danielle when it’s far too early for it to do any good for the project. That’s why I’m trying to be an unequivocal as I can be about this: I am not involved in any way. Absolutely no involvement whatsoever.
UPDATE 9/10:”The Creators” out themselves, say “we are filmmakers” and start talking about (sigh) business models.
The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.