Sifting through the week-old entertainment section hoping a movie, theater production, or concert listing catches your eye may soon seem quaint but obsolete. At least several Web sites hope so, as they are looking to make planning a date or a night out simple with personalized entertainment sites.
The latest such site, Open Sesame, was launched today and lets users customize a profile with their favorite genres of music, books, movies, television, videos, cultural events, and concerts. With a username and password, users can enter the site and click on "What's New" for an up-to-date summary of happenings from their list.
For example, when users who like art-house films log on, they'll get a list of the latest showings, including plot summaries, movie stills, or clips as well as a link to a site with theater listings and show times in their area. If a person's into mystery novels, a list of new releases from participating publishers and purchase options will pop up.
Similarly, Yahoo launched Get Local last month, a service that provides local information for more than 40,000 zip codes in 30,000 U.S. cities. Get Local creates a specialized page for the chosen locale with entertainment and restaurants, among other things.
Open Sesame is also entering a heavily invested entertainment calendar market that has caught the eye of not only publishers but also software developers such as Microsoft and Internet service providers like America Online.
Next year, Microsoft is launching Sidewalk, personalized city guides to entertainment in Seattle, New York, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, and Sydney, Australia.
Many local newspapers also have rich online calendars that are usually reprints of the daily paper's listings but include archives of restaurant and nightclub reviews.
There are potential drawbacks to the online services, however. For example, many people may prefer to keep a movie listing guide on their desk rather than logging on to their computer each time they want to go out on the town.