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Digital Hollywood

From Tom Hanks To Madonna, The Innovators Of Hollywood

The movers and shakers who are changing how we consume media.

  • <p><strong>DIGITAL VIDEO</strong><br />
<u>Tom Hanks</u>: Hanks created and starred in an ambitious animated postapocalyptic noir called <em>Electric City</em>, <a href="http://electriccity.yahoo.com/ep1-en-truth-or-consequences.html" target="_blank">releasing it on Yahoo</a> and as an app that enhanced its graphic-novelesque vibe.</p>
  • <p><strong>DIGITAL VIDEO</strong><br />
<u>Felicia Day</u>: The actress made the web series a thing with <a href="http://www.watchtheguild.com/" target="_blank"><em>The Guild</em></a>, her sitcom about online gaming culture. She has since expanded, launching a full lineup of nerd-friendly shows at <a href="http://GeekandSundry.com" target="_blank">GeekandSundry.com</a>.</p>
  • <p><strong>DIGITAL VIDEO</strong><br />
<u>Nina Garcia</u>: The fashion guru and <em>Project Runway</em> judge created a makeover web series for AOL, <a href="http://on.aol.com/partner/decoding-style-517443184" target="_blank"><em>Decoding Style</em></a>, because of her understanding of the changing ways her audience is viewing content at their convenience.</p>
  • <p><strong>DIGITAL VIDEO</strong><br />
<u>Seth Green</u>: The veteran comedic character actor’s production company, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, uses web video to advance the art of stop-motion animation, with the web series <a href="http://dinosauroffice.com/" target="_blank"><em>Dinosaur Office</em></a>, the YouTube show <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/StoopidMonkey" target="_blank"><em>Stoopid Monkey,</em></a> and shorts for Adult Swim.</p>
  • <p><strong>SOCIAL MEDIA</strong><br />
<u>Lady Gaga</u>: One of the most popular celebrities across Facebook, Twitter, and the like, Gaga launched <a href="https://littlemonsters.com/" target="_blank">LittleMonsters</a> last year to better own the relationship with her fans.</p>
  • <p><strong>SOCIAL MEDIA</strong><br />
<u>Snoop Lion</u>: The rap icon’s smart, early embrace of <a href="http://instagram.com/p/QYGWYpP9Pd/" target="_blank">Instagram</a>, where he really worked to learn how to be a good contributor, has earned him a passionate group of more than 1.6 million followers.</p>
  • <p><strong>SOCIAL MEDIA</strong><br />
<u>Steve Martin</u>: Wild and crazy experimentation are the watchwords here, as Martin applies his absurdist talents to Twitter (he has published his best tweets <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Make-That-Habits-Organized-People/dp/1455512478" target="_blank">as a book</a>) and his love of the banjo to a Spotify bluegrass app.</p>
  • <p><strong>SOCIAL MEDIA</strong><br />
<u>Madonna</u>: As a sign of Facebook’s and Twitter’s growing power on the publicity circuit for stars, the only press Madonna did for her last album, <em>MDNA</em>, were live chats on the social giants.</p>
  • <p><strong>ENTREPRENEURIAL</strong><br />
<u>Louis C.K.</u>: Everyone in Hollywood wants to replicate the comic’s direct online relationship with fans, which has translated to C.K. being able to sell comedy specials and concert tickets through his personal website.</p>
  • <p><strong>ENTREPRENEURIAL</strong><br />
<u>Jessica Alba</u>: The world’s most famous “mompreneur” has built her eco-friendly baby-products e-commerce business, <a href="https://www.honest.com/" target="_blank">The Honest Company</a>, into a hot startup.</p>
  • <p><strong>ENTREPRENEURIAL</strong><br />
<u>Ashton Kutcher</u>: As much an angel investor as an actor these days, Kutcher has stakes in Fab, Fancy, Dwolla, and Zaarly--and he’s inspired a wave of celebrities to follow his lead in funding tech companies.</p>
  • <p><strong>ENTREPRENEURIAL</strong><br />
<u>Jennifer Aniston</u>: Her locks are as famous as she is, and Aniston negotiated an equity stake and a role in the promising hair-care startup <a href="http://www.livingproof.com/" target="_blank">Living Proof</a> in exchange for her first U.S. hair-care endorsement.</p>
  • <p><strong>YOUTUBE</strong><br />
<u>Sarah Silverman</u>: She launched the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/JashNetwork" target="_blank">Jash network</a> with Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Reggie Watts to build an audience around--and make money from--their outré comedic sensibilities.</p>
  • <p><strong>YOUTUBE</strong><br />
<u>Jay-Z</u>: His <a href="http://lifeandtimes.com/" target="_blank">Life+Times</a> channel, featuring daily videos about the art, culture, fashion, music, and sports that Shawn Carter likes, has been a strong example of a celebrity creating programming around his brand.</p>
  • <p><strong>YOUTUBE</strong><br />
<u>Neil Patrick Harris</u>: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLl4T6p7km9dbx0o8J35KjWAwaiEo5tV7G" target="_blank"><em>Neil’s Puppet Dreams</em></a>, on the Nerdist Channel (it’s exactly what it sounds like), gives the veteran sitcom star complete freedom to pursue a creative idea that would never fly on TV.</p>
  • <p><strong>YOUTUBE</strong><br />
<u>Amy Poehler</u>: The <em>Parks and Recreation</em> darling deserves credit for being one of the first stars to try their hand at curating a channel, but Poehler’s <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/smartgirls" target="_blank">Smart Girls</a> hasn’t been as successful as homegrown YouTubers’.</p>
  • 01 /16

    DIGITAL VIDEO
    Tom Hanks: Hanks created and starred in an ambitious animated postapocalyptic noir called Electric City, releasing it on Yahoo and as an app that enhanced its graphic-novelesque vibe.

  • 02 /16

    DIGITAL VIDEO
    Felicia Day: The actress made the web series a thing with The Guild, her sitcom about online gaming culture. She has since expanded, launching a full lineup of nerd-friendly shows at GeekandSundry.com.

  • 03 /16

    DIGITAL VIDEO
    Nina Garcia: The fashion guru and Project Runway judge created a makeover web series for AOL, Decoding Style, because of her understanding of the changing ways her audience is viewing content at their convenience.

  • 04 /16

    DIGITAL VIDEO
    Seth Green: The veteran comedic character actor’s production company, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, uses web video to advance the art of stop-motion animation, with the web series Dinosaur Office, the YouTube show Stoopid Monkey, and shorts for Adult Swim.

  • 05 /16

    SOCIAL MEDIA
    Lady Gaga: One of the most popular celebrities across Facebook, Twitter, and the like, Gaga launched LittleMonsters last year to better own the relationship with her fans.

  • 06 /16

    SOCIAL MEDIA
    Snoop Lion: The rap icon’s smart, early embrace of Instagram, where he really worked to learn how to be a good contributor, has earned him a passionate group of more than 1.6 million followers.

  • 07 /16

    SOCIAL MEDIA
    Steve Martin: Wild and crazy experimentation are the watchwords here, as Martin applies his absurdist talents to Twitter (he has published his best tweets as a book) and his love of the banjo to a Spotify bluegrass app.

  • 08 /16

    SOCIAL MEDIA
    Madonna: As a sign of Facebook’s and Twitter’s growing power on the publicity circuit for stars, the only press Madonna did for her last album, MDNA, were live chats on the social giants.

  • 09 /16

    ENTREPRENEURIAL
    Louis C.K.: Everyone in Hollywood wants to replicate the comic’s direct online relationship with fans, which has translated to C.K. being able to sell comedy specials and concert tickets through his personal website.

  • 10 /16

    ENTREPRENEURIAL
    Jessica Alba: The world’s most famous “mompreneur” has built her eco-friendly baby-products e-commerce business, The Honest Company, into a hot startup.

  • 11 /16

    ENTREPRENEURIAL
    Ashton Kutcher: As much an angel investor as an actor these days, Kutcher has stakes in Fab, Fancy, Dwolla, and Zaarly--and he’s inspired a wave of celebrities to follow his lead in funding tech companies.

  • 12 /16

    ENTREPRENEURIAL
    Jennifer Aniston: Her locks are as famous as she is, and Aniston negotiated an equity stake and a role in the promising hair-care startup Living Proof in exchange for her first U.S. hair-care endorsement.

  • 13 /16

    YOUTUBE
    Sarah Silverman: She launched the Jash network with Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Reggie Watts to build an audience around--and make money from--their outré comedic sensibilities.

  • 14 /16

    YOUTUBE
    Jay-Z: His Life+Times channel, featuring daily videos about the art, culture, fashion, music, and sports that Shawn Carter likes, has been a strong example of a celebrity creating programming around his brand.

  • 15 /16

    YOUTUBE
    Neil Patrick Harris: Neil’s Puppet Dreams, on the Nerdist Channel (it’s exactly what it sounds like), gives the veteran sitcom star complete freedom to pursue a creative idea that would never fly on TV.

  • 16 /16

    YOUTUBE
    Amy Poehler: The Parks and Recreation darling deserves credit for being one of the first stars to try their hand at curating a channel, but Poehler’s Smart Girls hasn’t been as successful as homegrown YouTubers’.

The old guard needs to keep up or get left behind. So, the stars of the silver screen are making the move onto the computer screen. From Lady Gaga's social media network to Steve Martin's Spotify app, here are a few of those who are shaking up the digital sphere.

Related:
The Secret (Tech) Life of Ben Stiller
The Rebels Saving Hollywood

[Illustrations by Gluekit; photos courtesy of Corbis]

A version of this article appeared in the April 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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