March 10, 1997 6:15 PM ET
AOL to buy LightSpeed Media, create entertainment unit headed by ex-NBC exec Tartikoff
By Maria Seminerio

  America Online Inc.'s content development arm, Greenhouse Networks, today announced plans to purchase Web serial producer LightSpeed Media Inc. for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will give Greenhouse the resources for its next major project, the launch of a new online entertainment network to be spearheaded by onetime NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff.

LightSpeed, which produced the online serials "The Spot" and "GrapeJam," will be assumed by Greenhouse under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close within the next several weeks, according to officials at Greenhouse, in Vienna, Va.

Tartikoff has been named chairman of the board of directors of the yet-unnamed entertainment network, and LightSpeed founder Scott Zakarin has been named president of programming for the network, which is scheduled to debut by the fall, Greenhouse officials said.

The former NBC chief's first creation for the network will be an online serial called "Beggars and Choosers," which will chronicle a struggling television network and be launched simultaneously on AOL and as a made-for-TV movie on the Showtime cable network.

The LightSpeed purchase and the subsequent creation of the entertainment network are part of Greenhouse's strategy for building new interactive content for AOL members as well as free programs available on the Internet, said Danny Krifcher, president and CEO of Greenhouse.

The network will operate out of Los Angeles "to capitalize on LightSpeed's and Tartikoff's relationships throughout Hollywood," said Greenhouse officials.

Greenhouse also announced today that it has licensed collaborative filtering technology from Firefly Network Inc.

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