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WYPR Arts

TV's Next Hit May Come from the Country's Fringes

Producer Jason Goldberg is Ashton Kutcher's partner in Katalyst Films: "We felt that there was nobody communicating to youth culture at all — honestly communicating to youth culture."
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Producer Jason Goldberg is Ashton Kutcher's partner in Katalyst Films: "We felt that there was nobody communicating to youth culture at all — honestly communicating to youth culture."

Conventional advertising wisdom holds that if you are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, there's a decent chance you may not yet have settled on which brand of soda, denim or shampoo you like.

You might be more apt to try something new — and that makes you the kind of viewer that most television program sponsors would love to reach. The question is, how?

Television producer Jason Goldberg has done a decent job of figuring that out. With actor Ashton Kutcher, Goldberg created the MTV hit Punk'd, an update of Candid Camera where the prank victims happen to be celebrities.

Punk'd was such a hit when it debuted in 2003 that MTV ran half-hour episodes 50 times a week.

Now, Kutcher and Goldberg's Katalyst Films is looking for its next big success. Katalyst deploys "street teams," or hipster lookouts who watch kids in places you might not expect, such as Oklahoma and industrial cities in the Midwest.

In those more remote areas, kids feel so alienated and overlooked that they are inventing their own culture.

This, Goldberg says, is where the next big TV/Internet hit lies. His tip: To find something new that will capture 18-to-24-year old viewers, look to the outsiders.

Goldberg doesn't claim to know the fate of networks, and the mode of programming delivery at this point remains fluid. But he does have one prediction to make: "I do feel that content will always be king."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.