January 31 – February 7, 2008 Edition

G.P. Putnam and Web

Animators Team Up

For Live Web Series

BEVERLY HILLS, CA/1/25/08–The Tornante Company’s new media studio for Internet production, Vuguru ( is launching an innovative prequel web and mobile phone series based on GP Putnam’s Sons latest novel, Foreign Body from international bestselling author Robin Cook, the company announced. The series which will be co-produced by Cyber Group Animation ( and developed and directed by online entertainment company Big Fantastic (Prom Queen, Sam Has 7 Friends), is set to debut on May 27, 2008, ten weeks before the book becomes available worldwide.

For the first time ever, a leading consumer book publishing company and a new media studio will combine resources to marry the best in traditional storytelling with the sky-rocketing popularity of original based online content. The launch of the web series will air a new episode every day, five days a week, for 10 weeks, leading up to the last installment which will be released on Monday, August 4. On Tuesday, August 5, GP Putnam’s Sons will publish Robin Cook’s new novel Foreign Body. The novel will be available nationally, featuring the same characters and picking up where the web series leaves off.

“By joining forces with bestselling author Robin Cook and pioneers of Internet storytelling Big Fantastic, we have taken the best of two genres to create a web series that will change the traditional publishing and marketing model forever.” Said Michael Eisner. “As the Internet continues to evolve, Vuguru remains committed to producing quality content and finding new and exciting ways to enhance the storytelling experience.”

Robin Cook commented, “I’m so happy that my work has brought together my longtime publisher and one of the entertainment industry’s innovative new media companies. My hope is that this web movie series will be a new experience for readers everywhere. It will be really exciting to see my characters come alive online.”

Ivan Held, President, GP Putnam’s Sons, said, “It’s very exciting to be collaborating with a media leader and innovator such as Michael Eisner and his extraordinary team on this groundbreaking venture. This marks another step in Putnam’s ongoing efforts to deliver our authors’ stories to an Internet audience and to expand the overall worldwide readership of Robin Cook, one of our master storytellers.”

Pierre Sissmann, President of Cyber Group Animation, whose company will co-produce and handle international distribution, added, “Robin Cook is an international brand with loyal readers all over the world and the market is looking for innovative content to distribute on all formats. With this Internet series that we will also distribute on TV, we are already shaping the future of content in terms of 360° distribution.”

“We feel privileged that we have been given the opportunity to work with someone like Robin Cook whose prose has inspired and captivated literary audiences’ time and again.” States Douglas Cheney of Big Fantastic. “It is both a challenge and an honor that he entrusts us to translate the fictitious world that he has created into the digital realm.”

The online prequel will create further anticipation for Foreign Body, in which Cook focuses on a series of unexplained deaths in foreign hospitals that sends an idealistic UCLA medical student on a desperate search for answers, taking her to the dark side of medical tourism.

In spring 2008, Vuguru will debut their next original web series The-All-For-Nots, a docu-comedy about an indie rock band as they travel the U.S. on an under-funded and poorly planned tour. Vuguru’s first production, Prom Queen, was viewed by over 15 million people during its original run and was nominated for a Broadband Emmy. The series was such a huge success it spawned a fifteen episode spin-off series, Prom Queen: Summer Heat. In October 2007, Vuguru announced agreements to distribute the original and spin-off Prom Queen series internationally with Tornante establishing deals in both France and Japan.


Vuguru is a new media studio for Michael Eisner's The Tornante Company. The studio produces and distributes innovative story-driven content for current new media and emerging platforms. Vuguru’s production of Prom Queen is the first of many shows developed and produced by the studio. Privately held, The Tornante Company makes investments in and incubates companies and opportunities in the media and entertainment space. Tornante, which recently acquired The Topps Company Inc., owns Team Baby Entertainment and has an ownership stake in Veoh Networks.


Dr. Robin Cook, who is widely credited with introducing the word “medical” to the thriller genre, and twenty-nine years after the publication of his breakthrough novel, Coma, continues to dominate the category he created. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include Crisis, Critical, Marker, Seizure, and Shock. Cook’s medical thrillers have successfully combined medical fact with fiction to produce a succession of twenty-five New York Times bestsellers that have been translated into forty languages.

Cook is a graduate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and finished his postgraduate training at Harvard University. He took residency training in both general surgery and ophthalmology followed by a stint at the Kennedy School of Government in public policy. He is currently on leave from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he lives and works in Florida.


G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a hardcover imprint of Penguin Group (USA), founded in 1838, is one of the oldest and most prestigious imprints in the publishing industry. In 2007, G. P. Putnam’s Sons was once again the industry’s #1 publisher leader of New York Times adult hardcover bestsellers – a position the imprint has held for two decades running. With 30 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, approximately 50% of all of the books Putnam published last year hit The New York Times hardcover bestseller lists. Putnam’s list of renowned and critically acclaimed authors includes Patricia Cornwell, Robin Cook, Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Sue Grafton, John Sandford, Amy Tan, W.E.B. Griffin, Catherine Coulter, Daniel Silva, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, J.D. Robb, Dave Barry, Kurt Vonnegut, Stuart Woods, Jayne Anne Krentz, William Gibson, Jack Higgins, Amanda Quick, Kate Mosse, Lilian Jackson Braun, Ridley Pearson, Karen Robards, Randy Wayne White, Stephen Donaldson and Thomas DeFrank.


With two daytime Emmy awards nominations Big Fantastic is comprised of a handful of artists who aspire to a fresh and immersive way of storytelling on the Internet. Unified from backgrounds at Washington State University, Michael Mann’s features, and a palette of short films, they collaborated and focused their talents into producing the first daily, scripted and dramatic web-series “Sam Has 7 Friends” in 2006. They followed up the success of “Sam Has 7 Friends with the Internet phenomenon “Prom Queen” and the sequel “Prom Queen: Summer Heat.” Big Fantastic is comprised of Douglas Cheney, Chris Hampel, Chris McCaleb and Ryan Wise.


Cyber Group Animation is an independent producer and distributor of high quality 3D and 2D animation products and fiction products for TV, Internet and mobile phones. Founded by former top executives from the Walt Disney Company, Pierre Sissmann, Dominique Bourse and Billy, the famous French host of children, Cyber Group brings over thirty years of precious experience in marketing entertainment to children TV shows. The company originally developed its distribution arm for its own productions such as Ozie Boo! the hit preschool TV series sold in more than 100 territories. In the past few years Cyber Group Animation has constantly continued to develop its catalogue by seeking the most innovative content both for kids and young adults.