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Current Nabs Celebs, Ups Pod Payments

Current TV, the Al Gore/Joel Hyatt-helmed youth-targeted network, has inked deals with some well-known celebrities, filmmakers and authors to instruct its viewer-contributors on journalistic techniques. The network has also increased the fee it pays viewers who contribute digital programming.

As part of the network's "VC2 Survival Guide," free online training guidelines for how to submit video content, Sean Penn will introduce tips on journalism and Robert Redford will give advice on storytelling techniques.

Their interviews, along with advice from former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell, NPR host Ira Glass, author Dave Eggers, filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, Berkeley Graduate School Dean Orville Schell, blog editor Xeni Jardin, and others will explain to wannabe filmmakers which storytelling techniques work best for TV and why. They will be featured in the Current Online Studio section of the network's Web site, co-sponsored by Sony, as well as in segments on the cable network.

Current programs to 18-34-year olds with short-form pods submitted by viewers, largely through the network's Web site, which provides guidance on conceiving, producing, editing and uploading the digital content. Some 30% of Current’s programming is submitted by viewers, and the rest is produced in-house and acquired.

The network has increased to $500 the amount of money it pays video contributors for the first and second pieces commissioned, $750 for the third piece and $1,000 and a deal for another pod for the fourth. The network previously paid $250 for first and second piece commissioned, $500 for the third, $750 for the fifth, and $1000 after six pieces had aired. Current has also debuted a leader board of the top pods, ranked by its staff and visitors to its Web site, online.

The network promotes its video filmmakers through on-air interviews after their pods. Gore and legal-services mogul Hyatt launched Current Aug. 1 using the bandwidth from News World International, which they acquired. Currently in the 20 million homes it had amassed by its launch, the network aims to be in 50 million homes within five years.