ONE MINUTE MOVIES
In 2003, NBC attempted to add a new feature to prime-time television with "One-Minute Movies." Each original movie unfolded in its first 30 seconds and ended with a cliffhanger, and then a conclusion in the last 30 seconds. The One-Minute Movies were to be used as interstitial programming between commercials and possibly where a show ends a minute earlier than its scheduled running time.
The idea for the series was brought to NBC by John Wells (“E.R.”) and director Paris Barclay. The ten unique films were written, produced, cast, directed and filmed by assorted talent. Among the talent appearing in or lending their voices (one was animated) to the projects were Michael Richards, Tom Arnold, Carmen Electra, Bill Bellamy, Eddie Cibrian, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Paula Marshall, Jackee Harry, Danny Masterson and Amber Valletta.
With mechanical robots designed and built by Will Wright (creator of “The Sims”), the two segments directed by James Moll are comedic short films featuring fully functional robots in hidden-camera situations.
The first, “Restaurant” features a robotic waiter. Coffee shop diners were asked if they would be willing to be seated at a table that will be served by a mechanical server. Then, surrounded by tables filled with hired “extras,” the unknowing customer is approached by a 6-ft tall, fully functional, computerized, talking robot.
The second film, “Empathy,” also features hidden-cameras. In this case, a broken down, severely damages robot was planted next to a dumpster on a side street in Berkeley, California. As people would pass the robot, it would suddenly move and talk to the passersby. “Help me,” the poor helpless robot would say. Hidden cameras captured various reactions, everything from apathy to empathy.
After airing only one of the films – featuring “The Pussycat Dolls” -- NBC decided not to continue airing the remaining twelve films.