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When you cover as much about television as we do, you very quickly enter the “haven’t we seen this before” stage, where every idea looks like a carbon copy of the last one. Every once in a while, however, you come across something that looks new, and quite possibly insane, like this. Steven Soderbergh is working on a movie starring Sharon Stone where the audience will determine the story while the show is on.
Entertainment Weekly has the story about Soderbergh's current project at HBO, entitled Mosaic. One interesting thing about the film is how little we actually know about it. The network is unusually quiet about exactly what Mosaic is. We know something by that name is being developed at HBO, and we know Sharon Stone will star in it. That’s about all we know. The lack of information makes Soderbergh's recent public comment even more bizarre.
I believe the good people at HBO are genuinely enthusiastic about Mosaic for two reasons: First, it represents a fresh way of experiencing a story and sharing that experience with others; second, it will require a new Emmy category, and we will be the only eligible nominee.
The word on the street is that Mosaic will have some sort of choose your own adventure aspect where viewers would be able to vote via app in order to determine where the plot goes. Neither Soderbergh nor HBO is confirming this, but the producer’s comment certainly points toward an original idea that is so unique it would need “a new Emmy category.” If true, we’ll have a situation where the actors will be filming numerous scenes, many of which may never be seen. It could be quite the undertaking.
To give some credit where it’s due, the idea isn’t entirely new. The USA comedy Psych did something very similar for their 100th episode, which paid homage to the classic comedy Clue and thus had multiple endings, as the original film did. Fans voted online when the episode originally aired and the ending shown was the one the fans choose. On replays, the endings were shown randomly.
This actually brings up an interesting question. This being HBO, certainly Mosaic will be shown more than once. Will people have to watch the premiere in order to vote, or will the story go in a different direction every time it airs based on fan voting? Something like that could be truly unique. If you had to watch it more than once in order to see all the possible scenes, you could have something that retains viewership like no other movie.
Last year, Soderbergh said he was retiring from filmmaking because it wasn't fun anymore. Apparently creating entirely new Emmy categories is fun.