NEW YORK — The Twentieth Century Fox studio, a veteran of the big screen and the TV screen, is about to break into an entirely new realm: the really little screen, the kind that comes on a cell phone.
In what appeared to be the first arrangement of its kind, Twentieth Century Fox said Wednesday it would create a unique series of one-minute dramas based on its hit show "24" exclusively for a new high-speed wireless service being offered by Vodafone PLC, the world's biggest cell phone company.
Vodafone will begin offering the one-minute epidosdes in January in the United Kingdom, coinciding with the start of the fourth season of the show on a satellite TV service.
The "mobisodes," as they're being called, will be introduced later in 2005 in up to 23 more countries where Vodafone operates, mainly in Europe, as well as in the United States through the company's Verizon Wireless joint venture.
The deal is part of a broader agreement between Fox Entertainment Group and London-based Vodafone under which Fox, the entertainment unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., will develop other programming to be viewed on the phones.
In March, the new Vodafone service, to be called Vodafone live! with 3G, will also offer trailers and clips of movies under a "Movie of the Month" service, the first one being "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason."
Cell phone operators have invested heavily to roll out high-speed wireless services, intent on driving new revenues from Internet browsing, streaming video and audio, and other forms of media.
The announcement came on the same day that Vodafone announced the launch of its long-delayed high-speed wireless services across much of Europe. The launch ended a wait of several years since Vodafone spent billions to acquire licenses to use more of the public airwaves to deliver the new services, which are known as "3G" in the wireless industry.
The one-minute dramas and movie trailers from Fox were one of several services being unveiled for Vodafone's service, which will also offer news, sports, music and games.
The cellular version of the "24" series will be based on characters and actors from the show. Twenty four of them will be shown in all.
Teri Everett, a spokeswoman for Fox Entertainment Group, said Fox's deal with Vodafone represented the first time a Hollywood studio had agreed to make a TV series expressly for distribution on cell phones.
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