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Chasing the Hill, new show skirts TV and broadcasts on the Web

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Chris and I are at the CNN Grill, a restaurant CNN picks at every convention where you can go to watch the evening's speakers, work (for those of us actually covering the convention), and meet a number of interesting people (which is fun, but also work).

Among those, I ran into Melissa Fitzgerald, who played CJ's secretary on West Wing (and who I know from a trip we were on together with the One Campaign visiting the G-8 in Scotland several years ago), and Richard Schiff, who played Toby on the same show. Melissa and Richard are working on a new show about politics in Washington, called Chasing the Hill, which interestingly enough is being broadcast exclusively on the Web (you can watch the first two episodes via the previous link).

The show's creator, Brent Roske, told me that he was tired of pitching good ideas in Hollywood and having them shot down, so he decided to do his own show and broadcast it online. It's an interesting idea, remininiscent of recent efforts by authors to forgo traditional publishers and simply publish their own e-books. It also not that different from the YouTube model of self-publishing, though I'm not familiar with people who have made it big on TV or elsewhere after becoming YouTube sensations (I suspect they exist, does anyone know?)

Melissa says she's not aware of any grand plan for the future of the show - meaning, whether the intent is for some big studio to see it, like it, and pick it up for television. At this point they have some funding, all the actors are making the SAG minimum, but nothing close to their normal salaries. It's simply a fun upstart labor of love, and a pretty neat experiment in Web commerce and creativity. It will be interesting to see how it goes. If anyone's seen the show, feel free to weigh in in the comments - I hope to watch it later when I get a chance.

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