Producer Walter Latham is best known for the "The Original Kings of Comedy" -- a successful comedy tour headlined by Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey that resulted in a movie directed by Spike Lee.
Latham cemented his reputation with television specials for HBO and Showtime -- including Chris Rock's "Bring the Pain," "Queens of Comedy" and "P. Diddy Presents the Bad Boys of Comedy" -- and by promoting the concert tours of Rock, Martin Lawrence, Mo'Nique and others.
Last year, he sought to reach the next generation of comedy fans on YouTube, as one of a group of traditional media executives to take advantage of the site's $100-million effort to fund 100 new channels with professional-quality entertainment.
Now, Latham is returning to his roots: taking the "Comedy After Dark" brand he incubated on YouTube, with its mixture of stand-up and scripted shows, and bringing it to TV.
Using additional live footage captured while filming the stand-up comedy segments for YouTube, Latham has produced an original hour-long "Comedy After Dark" special. The show, which debuts Feb. 24 on Comedy Central, will be carried over the next month on the cable network, then be available through the Netflix online subscription service.
Latham hopes that by harnessing all forms of video distribution -- traditional and new -- he will attract more viewers and advertisers to his YouTube channel, Walter Latham Comedy. The channel, launched last July, has garnered nearly 50,000 subscribers and more than 12 million views. It features content from Latham's past productions featuring Tyler Perry, Mo'Nique and Mac, as well as new content from Michael Blackson, Carolina Catalino and Tara "Miss P" Powell.
"I know how to build brands," Latham said. "You're not going to build equity in brands on YouTube alone. ... Let me get into 1 million [TV] houses, then take that same piece of content and go back to the Internet, where I can have more exposure, more awareness -- and I can demand more money for that content."