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TakePart TV: relevant, entertaining

By FRAZIER MOORE AP Television Writer

Publication: The Day

Published October 03. 2012 4:00AM

Video grazers can check out a brand-new YouTube channel that promises to be as amusing as any cat on a skateboard but also to engage viewers with ideas for changing the world.

TakePart TV, which launched Tuesday, is a digital home for what the network has termed "clever, eye-opening and optimistic content around big issues that face our planet." The target audience is millennials ranging from teenage to 30.

One of YouTube's new 100-channel portfolio, TakePart TV will deliver original programming that consists of news, short-form comedy, animation and nonfiction series featuring such names as Henry Rollins, Dan Savage and Kobe Bryant.

"The mission of this channel is to create awesome stuff for people who give a s---," says Evan Shapiro, president of Participant Television. "But what we want to do is not just give them stuff that entertains them, but stuff they want to spread around."

The network's flagship show is "BFD: Brain Food Daily," whose five correspondents will focus on sex, power, media, mind and the planet. Topics this week include "The Price of Vice: Making Money by Legalizing Sex, Drugs and Gambling" and "Five Worst Hells: Countdown of the World's Worst Afterlives."

Other TakePart TV fare includes: "American Savage" in which columnist-podcaster-pundit Dan Savage sounds off on topics such as sex, religion and politics; "Compton Cricket," a docuseries that follows an effort to introduce troubled youth in Compton, Calif., to the gentleman's game of cricket, fusing them into an exceptional team; "Mission," with basketball great Kobe Bryant who heads to Los Angeles' Skid Row to investigate the plague of homelessness; and "Capitalism," in which Poet-writer-activist Henry Rollins hits the campaign trail with a two-month odyssey to all 50 state capitals, fueled by his own vision of the issues driving the election.

In discussing the potential for TakePart TV, Shapiro points to the thousands of "Call Me Maybe" covers and parodies that sprang up in response to the original by Carly Rae Jepsen. He cites the hundreds of millions of viewings of South Korean rapper PSY's "Gangnam Style."

"This generation cares, and they're looking to be part of something larger than themselves," says Shapiro. "We're giving them that - something actionable on a daily basis - as well as something to enjoy."

TakePart TV is the first effort by Participant Television, which Shapiro joined last May after previously serving as president of IFC TV and Sundance Television. He has executive produced such documentaries and series as "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," and the Peabody Award-winning "Brick City" and "Portlandia."

"Television is not a box, a place or a time slot," says Shapiro. "It's an exchange of values between an artist and an audience. TakePart TV is a piece of television that happens to be online."

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