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Paramount enters Spot picture

The plot thickened in the quest to save The Spot when a new character entered the story line today: Paramount Digital Entertainment.

The plot thickened in the quest to save Web soap The Spot when a new character entered the story line today: Paramount Digital Entertainment.

American Cybercast, The Spot's producer, approached Paramount this week after its financial problems were publicly aired by an employee Monday. She pleaded with fans for help on The Spot's Web site, saying that Cybercast and its four online soaps were going down the tubes.

Although Cybercast quickly removed the message detailing the company's money problems, the word was already out that it needed cash in a hurry. The company also hit the pavement looking for investors.

"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 yesterday that Scott Zakarin, the creator of The Spot, offered to buy the Web soap opera. Cybercast spokeswoman Kay Dangaard would say only that "there has been no serious offer to buy The Spot from American Cybercast."

Happy Spot fans flooded the The Spot Fan board, a non-Cybercast board, with 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 the life and times of 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.

Internet Editor Jeff Pelline contributed to this report.