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Digital Hollywood

The Secret (Tech) Life Of Ben Stiller

The star’s digital mantra—"This is a funny idea, these guys are incredibly talented, let’s make it"—fuels his success.

The Secret (Tech) Life Of Ben Stiller

The web series takes on the mighty task of parodying the self-parodies that are The Bachelor/Bachelorette shows, and it succeeds mightily. "I am responsible for everything good on the show," Stiller says. (He's joking. Ken Marino [Party Down] and his wife, Erica Oyama, are the show's creative forces.) Burning Love has attracted a Who's Who of comedic talent—Adam Scott, Kristen Bell, Colin Hanks, Michael Cera, Nick Kroll, June Diane Raphael, and more—and an audience of 11 million on Yahoo, earning it a pickup on E! and at least two more seasons.

Stiller's parents, the cross-cultural comedy team that captures what happens when an Irish girl marries a nice Jewish boy, reprise their shtick for 26 quick-bite episodes; this too debuted on Yahoo and is moving to Hulu.

"That was my idea," says Stiller of the star-studded Twitter reading. "No." And he laughs. Comedian Paul Scheer (The League) wanted to do a benefit for the Stiller Foundation to help build schools in Haiti, and Stiller's company got behind it, marking the first time it sold digital entertainment direct to fans. The one-night-only event featured 140 notable performers, including Ashton Kutcher, Weird Al Yankovic, and Sasha Grey, reading one tweet, and the video was No. 1 on iTunes in its first week of release.

The first season of this web series from New York University grads Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf caught the eye of Stiller's TV production chief. "It just really made me laugh," Stiller says. Stiller invited Anfanger to audition for his forthcoming Walter Mitty remake, and he commissioned more episodes of the web show.

[Photo by Jake Chessum; styling: Michael Fisher for Starworks Artists; hair: Natalia Bruschi; makeup: Amy Komorowski for Celestine Agency; shirt: Earnest Sewn; jacket: Paul Smith London, available at]

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