Whoopi Goldberg talks about Web show ‘Stream’
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We’re a couple of years into the Web video revolution, but only a few truly top-hole celebrities have signed on to make online series. Whoopi Goldberg has become the latest to join that small constellation, starring in the sci-fi thriller ‘Stream,’ which launched today on the site of distribution partner FEARNet, the purveyor of Web horror. ‘Stream’ is produced by Goldberg’s production company Whoop Inc.. It tells the story of a woman named Jodi Quinn, played by Goldberg, who begins to feel time’s fabric tearing in her mind, creating a rift that shuttles her between past, present and future versions of herself. It’s an innovative premise, and -- in the first episode, at least -- the story builds more tension than many of its less memorable Web thriller predecessors. It doesn’t hurt that Goldberg’s engaging screen presence propels the story forward.
We caught up to her by phone Wednesday to ask her about her step into cyberspace.
How do you like making webisodes?
I think it’s a great new genre, I’m really excited about it. I didn’t really know much about it — not that I’ve become savvy, per se [laughs] -- but I just like the idea that there [are] other places where you can act. I think it’s fantastic that you can do a five-minute episode and you’re good.
Is the production process much different than movies or TV?
Well, you’re home a lot earlier. Usually you’re on a set for 8-12 hours. But you can do this like guerrilla theater. You go out, you’ve got your camera and you hope you don’t ...
... get into deep trouble, and you shoot it. It’s a grittier process -– you have to be a little more innovative. If it’s something you’re not used to, then it’s a little bit of a surprise.
Fortunately, I’ve worked for friends of mine [on smaller projects] and a lot of film students — and that’s the way you have to do this. It’s no glamor, it’s just the work.
From the first episode at least, this doesn’t seem like your average blood and gore horror story.
It’s an unusual story. It’s all about time. I’ve not seen the finished part. I don’t like to watch anything, but my character has this thing that happens to her where she wakes up at different times. She doesn’t know what’s happening to her, or why. But there are two or three different ‘hers’ as well. So it’s quite fantastic that she’s trying to figure out what is happening, as are all of her different renditions. It turns out there are other people who this happens to as well, and we go from there ...
What attracted you to the idea of doing a Web series?
I like the idea of doing lots of work in different genres. Whether it’s stage performances or doing films or voiceovers. I love the idea that there are lots of different ways to act. When we first talked about it, I said, ‘You have to let me do this.’ No one will let me do sci-fi anymore — I did my ‘Star Trek’ thing, and I really love it. And it’s close to being in a horror movie, and no one will ever let me be in a horror movie anymore either.
I’d always known that we were going to have make content for the Web. My partner Tom Leonardis [president of Whoop Inc.] and I have been talking about this for 15 years — about doing stuff for the computer. But unless you have a lot of development money, you really have to wait for someone else to come along who’s thinking in a similar vein. So the stars aligned, and we were able to do this. And then FEARNet, God bless them, came along and said, we really liked this.
Why aren’t there a lot of big name celebrities online yet?
I don’t know if anyone has thought about them to do it. I think oftentimes people think high-profile celebrities are not interested in doing small things. I find a lot of folks are, it’s just that no one ever thinks to ask them. Of course, you go in knowing there’s no money, but you might get to do something you haven’t done before. So I think that it’ll come. It’s just no one has ever gone to Brad Pitt and said, ‘Would you be interested in doing this?’ Because everybody thinks Brad Pitt would never do that, but you never know.
As someone who’s been in longer form genres, do you think there’s a limitation to the emotion you can evoke in two- or three-minute episodes?
We’ll find out. I don’t know yet.
What do you think of YouTube?
I’m starting to watch some interesting things on YouTube. I like watching little babies — they make me laugh. There’s a lot of stuff on there that’s not for me, but every now and then something great comes along on it. I love how it’s become an archive for things. There’s a great PSA that I want to show to other people [from Fatherhood.gov]. It’s so moving that every time I see it, it makes me happy.
You can see the one she’s talking about here.
-- David Sarno