Actor Daniel Franzese, whose scene-stealing turns in the Tina Fey-penned "Mean Girls" won him favor in the hearts of millions (myself included; his are the lines I most often quote to my best friend on a bad day. Nothing can quite make me laugh like "And none for Gretchen Wieners, bye!"), has been showing up everywhere lately. I recently wrote about his work in a hilarious Yahoo! short called "You Got Retweeted", and he graciously agreed to give me an interview about his latest project with Tom Hanks, a Yahoo! exclusive animated series which he lends his voice to.
The series, "Electric City", is set in a dystopian future and deals with murder, shady back-alley dealings, and mystery--but that's putting it lightly. The show will be fully integrated with social media and will allow viewers to interact, role-play, and even read digital comic books about the story's background.
Franzese plays several characters within the show and says he's amazed at what Hanks and his production company, Playtone, have managed to create.
"It is incredibly exciting to be a part of this new frontier," he told WebProNews. "Yahoo! along with Playtone and Reliance Entertainment are really taking new media to exciting new heights. It's inspiring. New media projects have been growing increasingly popular every year and it's a gold rush of sorts with prospecting filmmakers trying to find the big hit. Tom Hanks and his vision are lining Electric City up in such a way that it should prove there is gold in them there hills. It's remarkable what they are doing and have done."
The digital comics may prove to be priceless for some viewers who want a bit more on the history behind the plot; the show itself will be aired in five to seven-minute segments, with the first ten episodes premiering together on Yahoo! on July 17th and the rest airing on the 18th and 19th. Because the show is broken up in small doses, it will no doubt appeal to tablet and smart phone users. But the brief episodes have a lot of information to pack in one punch, and a digital backstory could help immensely for those who like to know where the characters came from. Franzese says he's one of those people.
"I guess being a performer I am a sucker for an awesome backstory. I love knowing why I am fighting. Even when playing something simple like Angry Birds, I think, "I hate those green pigs. They did my people dirty." It gets personal."
Yahoo! has been rolling out more original programming lately, including a show called "Burning Love", which stars the handsome and hilarious Ken Marino of "The State" (if you're not old enough to know what that is, get off my lawn). Franzese has ties to the actor, as they appeared together on the show "Party Down" (another favorite that went way before its time), and says he would love to be involved in the future of Yahoo's original programming.
"I grew up on "The State" and it was a dream to work with him (Ken), and "Burning Love" is great! The direction Yahoo! is moving with in original programming is the future," Franzese says. "It makes room for a lot of comedic voices. Many networks dilute a lot of artists and writers. "You Got Retweeted" was fun because it was all my friends, including writer Kimmy Gatewood and Director Matt Johnson. How refreshing to see a huge company like Yahoo! help artists flourish. I hope to work with them again. Both projects have truly been a pleasure."
Franzese isn't waiting around for projects to be dropped into his lap, however; he's busy with "Shit Italian Moms Say", a group of viral videos which have blown up on the interwebs. Aside from being adorable in a dress, he also knows how to give me the giggles for literally twenty minutes at work. Have a watch, they're to die.