Microsoft has reached an agreement with a company headed by Hollywood producer and talent manager Peter Safran to produce original shows...

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Microsoft has reached an agreement with a company headed by Hollywood producer and talent manager Peter Safran to produce original shows for distribution on the Xbox 360 console.

Safran represents clients like the actor and producer Sean Combs (“Monster’s Ball”) and actor and writer Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”).

Safran said his first round of programs would all be scripted, as opposed to reality shows, and would probably run under 10 minutes.

He said he planned initially to focus on genres, like comedy and horror, that appeal to the Xbox 360 audience.

That audience is heavily concentrated from the ages of 14 to 34 and tends to be more male than female.

The first shows are expected to be available by the fall.

Social networking

3-D virtual chat moving live online

Silicon Valley startup Vivaty is creating 3-D virtual chat rooms that people can add to the Web pages and social-networking profiles on the sites where they spend their Internet time.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company will begin a private test period on Facebook this week in advance of a wider introduction in the summer. It is backed by blue-chip venture capital firms Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers and Mohr Davidow Ventures.

Vivaty turns a flat profile page into a three-dimensional live chat room. Users choose characters to represent themselves and proceed to one of a dozen environments, like a gothic urban warehouse or seaside villa.

Up to 15 others can choose avatars and enter the same room at the same time for text-based live socializing.

Vivaty plans to make money partly by allowing companies to start their own virtual rooms on their own Web sites, where they can control the decor and their marketing messages.


Web site targets women, ages 25-54

Yahoo today is launching Shine, a site for women between ages 25 and 54.

The move is aimed largely at giving the struggling Internet company more opportunities to sell ads targeted to the key decision-maker in many households.

Amy Iorio, vice president for Yahoo Lifestyles, said internal research also shows women are looking for a site to aggregate various content and communications tools.

Yahoo is entering a market already served by Glam Media and iVillage. It is Yahoo’s first site aimed at a single demographic.

Shine likely will replace the existing Food site over time, although Yahoo plans to keep its Health site operating to serve men and other age groups as well as women.

Yahoo is partnering with media companies like Hearst Communications and Rodale for exclusive content.

Unlike most other Yahoo sites, Shine will be in a blog form, with newest items on top and commentary from an editor.

Lehman Brothers

Japanese traders accused of fraud

Lehman Brothers sued Japanese trading company Marubeni today, demanding $350 million in a case of alleged fraud.

The investment bank seeks to recoup money it gave another Japanese company that it says Marubeni employees helped secure.

The money went to a unit of LTT Bio-Pharma that filed for bankruptcy March 19, leaving investors stuck with millions in outstanding loans.

LTT Bio-Pharma acknowledged in a statement this month that its unit’s bankruptcy was related to “an alleged illegal transaction.”

Marubeni fired two employees after acknowledging they may have collaborated with the fund’s managers to forge documents, according to the statement. It added that Marubeni has filed a separate criminal complaint against the fund’s managers.

Tokyo-based Marubeni has said it did not secure the funding and that documents to that effect are fake.

Compiled from The Associated Press and The New York Times