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The Spot's stain spreads

American Cybercast removes its president from her post, adding another twist to the saga of the company that owns Web soap The Spot.

The president of American Cybercast was silently removed from her post last week, adding another twist in the saga of the sinking Web soap company, best known for its online drama The Spot.

Last Monday, then-president Sheri Herman reported that the company was in trouble. As of today Herman is gone, and Cybercast chairman Russell Collins has stepped in after firing her.

This week, the company is expected to announce what Collins has planned to cope with the company's financial troubles, Cybercast spokeswoman Kay Dangaard said today.

Cybercast's struggle became public last week after its financial problems were aired by an employee Monday. She pleaded with fans for help on The Spot Web site, saying that Cybercast and its four online soaps were going down the tubes.

Although Cybercast quickly removed the message, the word was already out that it needed cash in a hurry, and the company hit the pavement looking for investors. On Friday, CNET learned, Cybercast turned to Paramount Digital Entertainment for help.

"American Cybercast approached us this week," said Joanie Kotick, Paramount Digital spokeswoman, adding: "We have talked in regards to a potential partnership." She wouldn't give any more details about the negotiations.

CNET also learned late Thursday that Scott Zakarin, the creator of The Spot, offered to buy the Web soap opera. Dangaard would say only that "there has been no serious offer to buy The Spot from American Cybercast."

Ebullient fans flooded The Spot's non-Cybercast fan board, posting messages applauding the offer. Most hope that Zakarin will buy back his creation.

Cybercast's financial problems mean that its Web soap operas, including The Spot, Eon-4, The Pyramid, and Quick Fix, could be shut down by the end of the month because Cybercast is running out of money. The Spot is the most successful of the four so-called Web-sodics.

"I don't want to see it go down," Zakarin said. "I hope they don't go out of business, but if they did, I felt it necessary to make an offer."

Zakarin wouldn't disclose his offer, though he called it "a lot of money for me." He gave American Cybercast about two weeks to respond.

Zakarin and the three other original writers for The Spot started another Web-sodic, Grape Jam, in February.

The company launched The Spot in 1995. It features a group of Generation-Xers living in a Southern California beach house. Although it doesn't provide documentation, Cybercast contends that The Spot receives more traffic than any other Web-sodic.