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iCast laughs in face of Web entertainment woes

At a time when online entertainment sites are stumbling or folding, the CMGI-owned company is planning to launch a site devoted to comedy on the Web.

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At a time when online entertainment sites have stumbled or folded, CMGI-owned iCast is planning to launch a site devoted to comedy on the Web, News.com has learned.

iCast currently hosts short films and animation, music and video clips, and other entertainment-oriented content. Now the company plans to add a comedy site to its roster of offerings.

Dubbed "iCast Comedy," the service will debut with a publicity tour of 10 universities. It has signed comedian Janeane Garofalo as its spokeswoman, according to sources familiar with the plans.

The company has tapped Lara Stein, formerly of iXL Enterprises and Microsoft, as its president; former TV producer Brian Murphy as its chief executive; and former Maxim Online director John Wooden as its head of programming.

iCast declined to comment on the new venture.

For iCast, the expansion of its offerings comes as a growing list of online entertainment ventures experience hard times. Today, Shockwave.com, which also hosts animation and music clips, said it would lay off 20 of its 170 employees to concentrate on interactive games and films.

Yesterday, Pop.com, an online entertainment start-up backed by Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, announced it was shutting its doors before launching. Earlier this summer, Digital Entertainment Network also closed.

iCast still faces a handful of competitors that are hosting video and audio entertainment on the Web, including AtomFilms, Ifilm and Icebox.

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