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Hollywood Reporter Story on Pivot

How Participant’s New Network, Pivot, Aims to Avoid Current TV’s Fate
5:00 AM PDT 5/16/2013 by Alex Ben Block

Can Jeff Skoll do what Al Gore could not?

As the former vice president’s cable channel Current — once hyped as an engine of positive social change — fades to black after its sale to Al Jazeera, Skoll’s Participant Media is preparing for the Aug. 1 launch of Pivot, a channel with a similar mission to entertain and inspire activism.

Will it work? Skoll, the first president of eBay who has invested in 42 socially relevant films including Lincoln and The Help, has committed several hundred million dollars to Pivot. And his strategy differs in many key respects, with the goal being to appeal to the elusive 18-to-34 demographic.

“We’re starting with entertainment,” says Evan Shapiro, the channel’s president, who was recruited from IFC/Sundance. “All due respect to the former vice president … but they started with, ‘We’re important and you must watch.’ That turned a generation of people off.” Instead of Current’s news and user-generated content — “broccoli with bran muffins,” says Shapiro — Pivot will offer “entertainment meant to pull you in and then challenge you to do something with the information.”

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