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Partnership gives play to independent films online

In a nod toward the growing convergence between film and the Internet, a popular Hollywood actor and the Independent Film Channel team for short films for the Web and cable television.

In a nod toward the growing convergence between filmmaking and the Internet, actor John Malkovich and The Independent Film Channel are teaming to produce original short films for IFC's Web site and cable TV channel.

Mr. Mudd, the company run by Malkovich and producers Russ Smith and Lianne Halfon, will produce short films for the Web site and IFC Broadband Theater as well as for the TV channel, the companies said in a statement.

In addition, Malkovich and actor Hugh Laurie, of "Blackadder" and "Stuart Little" fame, will contribute literary musings on culture to IFCRant, a bimonthly magazine launching next month.

In return, IFC will provide financing, distribution and marketing support, the company said.

The deal comes as numerous Web start-ups and some veteran film studios are launching efforts to distribute films online. Trimark Pictures' Net spinoff, CinemaNow, unveiled plans last month to distribute its library of feature-length movies over the Internet.

Those focusing on short films include Time Warner's Entertaindom;, a venture between DreamWorks SKG and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures; Atom Films; and teen sites iTurf and Digital Entertainment Network.

Through their alliance, Mr. Mudd and IFC said they hope to provide their partners with alternative venues for creating and showcasing their work.

"The partnership between IFC and Mr. Mudd is developing at a very exciting time, when the film industry is just discovering the full potential of the Web," Joe Cantwell, executive vice president of IFC New Media, said in a statement.

IFC, managed and operated by Bravo Networks, says it reaches more than 30 million homes and has more than 14 million full-time subscribers.

The short films created under the Mr. Mudd-IFC partnership will debut in IFC's "prime-time shorts" showcase July 3 and in IFC's "Broadband Theater" at The films also will be featured on the Bravo TV channel.