Degrassi goes virtual [CTV.CA]

Degrassi goes virtual

Updated Wed. Jun. 11 2008 11:14 AM ET

CTV

Degrassi may be closing its doors for the summer, but fans can stay connected with their favourite characters and other viewers through the latest phenomenon in social entertainment, vSide.

Degrassi: The Next Generation has become the first Canadian television series to launch a presence in vSide, the 3-D, online, next-generation virtual world.

To celebrate, Degrassi: TNG will host “Degrassi Spirit Week”, a virtual, week-long event beginning Monday, June 16 that will see Degrassi cast members make appearances through their avatars in vSide at degrassi.ctv.ca.

Airing Mondays at 7:30 p.m. ET on CTV, just one new episode is left before Degrassi ends Season 7 with a prom and a special appearance by Natasha Bedingfield in the finale on June 23 (visit CTV.ca to confirm local broadcast times). Degrassi: TNG will continue to air on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. ET until Season 8 premieres in the fall on CTV.

A “place to party with your friends online,” vSide is a three-dimensional platform that provides a real-time place to interact with friends in a graphically stunning online environment.

Targeted for the 13-24 age demographic, vSide allows teens to express their creativity and connect with friends who have similar interests in music, entertainment and fashion. Users create a customized avatar, which is a user’s representation of themselves in the form of a 3D animated character.

The avatar allows them to travel through the vSide universe, interact with others in the vSide community, and play games and trivia to earn vSide credits to purchase virtual items. Users can also select and decorate their own apartments, where they can throw parties, play music, stream YouTube videos and more.

Activity and chat in the vSide environment is monitored at all times to ensure that it’s a safe environment for teens.

In a Canadian exclusive last night, eTalk’s Ben Mulroney created a 3D avatar of himself and held the first-ever virtual interview with Degrassi cast member Mike Lobel (Jay) in the Degrassi DOT Grill in vSide.

To view the innovative eTalk interview and take a firsthand look at the vSide environment click here.

To download vSide, visit degrassi.ctv.ca.

“vSide is the latest extension of the Degrassi brand beyond the television screen,” said Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.

“This series continues to break barriers and vSide is literally a virtual breakthrough for Canadian television.”

“Our fans tell us they want to connect with our show any way they can, so what better way to do that than by spending time with their friends in vSide’s version of Degrassi’s DOT Grill, listening to music from Degrassi, watching clips, and taking up residence in a DOT Dorm,” said Christopher Jackson, Epitome Pictures’ Director of Digital Media.

“We’re confident that 3D social networking platforms such as vSide will be a big part of ‘what’s next’ in the digital space. We couldn’t be more excited about our involvement with vSide!”

“Degrassi Spirit Week” is set to begin in vSide at The DOT Grill on Monday, June 16. The party will be raging as Degrassi cast members make appearances through their avatars in vSide all week long.

Among the week’s highlights are a Q&A with Paula Brancati (Jane) and Dalmar Abuzeid (Danny) on Monday; an interview about all things Degrassi with co-executive producer Linda Schuyler on Tuesday; Raymond Ablack (Sav) and Charlotte Arnold (Holly J) appearing on vSide’s After School Radio on Wednesday; Mike Lobel co-hosting vSide’s VRL (Virtual Request Live) on Thursday; and a Spirit Week Wrap-up on Friday. Users will also have the opportunity to purchase Degrassi clothing and play Degrassi trivia.

To get to Degrassi’s DOT Grill in vSide, follow these simple steps:

1. Download the vSide client (for Mac or PC) from degrassi.ctv.ca

2. Follow instructions to install the program on a computer.

3. Start vSide – users will be asked to create an account and choose an avatar.

4. Once the user has selected an avatar, they will be taken to vSide’s Gateway for a brief tutorial.

5. When the tutorial is over, take the train to the DOT Grill in vSide city LaGenoaAires and join the party!

From rival students coming together, to date rape and cancer, Degrassi Season 7 continues to tackle some of life’s toughest issues. In next week’s episode, “If This Is It” (airing Monday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET), Spinner (Shane Kippel) and Jimmy (Aubrey Graham) have just one more exam before they’re finally done school.

With Jimmy’s help, Spinner’s sure he can pass and enjoy his cancer-free future. However, when a great opportunity for Spinner’s new band presents itself, Spinner is faced with a dilemma: focus on the music and return to high school to be with Jane (Paula Brancati) next year, or study hard with Jimmy and leave Degrassi without any real plans.

And as the season comes to an end, international recording artist Natasha Bedingfield makes a cameo appearance, singing her hit song “Pocket Full of Sunshine” in Degrassi’s Season 7 finale “We Built This City” on Monday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET on CTV.

With time ticking towards the Class of ’07 Prom and Graduation ceremony, Liberty (Sarah Barrable-Tishaur) has the perfect night planned: a hotel prom with the amazing Natasha Bedingfield performing. But amidst all the fabulousness of the prom, the undeniable attraction Liberty and Damian (Mazin Elsadig) have for each other leads to a forbidden makeout session.

When Emma (Miriam McDonald) and Toby (Jake Goldsbie) discover Liberty’s betrayal, seven years of friendship teeter on the precipice of ruin.

Season 8 of Degrassi: The Next Generation is currently in production in Toronto.

vSide virtual world is produced by the award winning social entertainment company Doppelganger. vSide is an immersive and connected virtual environment that complements and amplifies the interests of the youth demographic: music, pop culture, fashion, celebrities, self-expression, communication, community and social networking.

Television series featured in vSide include The Tyra Banks Show and musical act The Pussycat Dolls has launched a presence as well. vSide makes it possible for media partners and brands to connect with this influential demographic in compelling and interactive new ways through a vibrantly created, expertly targeted social entertainment world. Doppelganger is a privately held company with offices located in San Francisco, California.

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