Ed McMahon and Victory Entertainment to Launch World’s Largest Online Talent Contest in Association with Microsoft

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 25, 2000 — Ed McMahon, Victory Entertainment Corp. and Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of Next Big Star TM , the world’s largest Internet talent competition, at http://www.nextbigstar.com . Next Big Star brings a new level of interactivity to talent competitions by using the MSN TM network of Internet services and Microsoft® Windows Media TM technologies to broadcast contestants’ performances for voting over the Internet.

Every 13 weeks, winners of the online voting will appear on national TV in a final competition hosted by Ed McMahon (
“Star Search,” “The Tonight Show”
). The final competition will be simulcast on the Web to the millions of users of Windows Media Player through MSN.com TM and NextBigStar.com .

In addition, MSN will promote Next Big Star prominently on the Entertainment Channel and will feature exclusive news, interviews and finalist results from the talent search. Viewers can participate in the official Next Big Star MSN Web Communitiesty, chat with celebrities at MSN Chat, and cast votes for their favorite performers at either MSN.com or NextBigStar.com.

“Star Search was the first big break for many outstanding performers,”
McMahon said.
“By joining with Microsoft we’re opening up the wonderful world of the Web to find that person with talent, hopes and dreams like a Rosie O’Donnell, Britney Spears or Drew Carey to become the next big star!”

Beginning in late March, McMahon will be on the road with a 40-city bus tour searching for talent in more than 50 categories. Online voting will begin in April, and the first final competition will be broadcast in August. Winners will receive $10,000 in cash and prizes, plus opportunities for a screen test, record contracts and personal appearances.

“This is a joint effort among some of the most experienced and talented people in the entertainment and technology industries, and represents Victory Entertainment’s first production developed specifically for the Internet,”
said Michael H. Gerber, president and chief executive officer, Victory Entertainment.
“The venture will include production teams on both coasts, live events and a promotional campaign through Internet advertising, as well as traditional offline media coverage. We are fortunate to have assembled such a talented and dynamic group of partners to support this forward-thinking concept.”

“NextBigStar.com lets anyone with Internet access join in and help pick tomorrow’s stars,”
said Dave Fester, director of marketing, Digital Media Division, Microsoft.
“We’re pleased to be a technology and promotional partner with NextBigStar.com, combining Ed McMahon’s appeal with MSN’s large online audience and the high-quality audio and video of Windows Media to create a unique entertainment experience.”

Heading up the creative team will be executive producer George Schlatter, best known for creating and producing
“Laugh In.”
Schlatter is currently producing the American Comedy Awards for the Fox Network. His other credits include
“Sinatra: 80 Years My Way,”
where he served as producer. Schlatter will also produce the upcoming American Film Institute
“Salute to Harrison Ford.”

Microsoft will provide promotion and co-marketing on MSN.com and on WindowsMedia.com ( http://windowsmedia.com ). Internet broadcasts will use Windows Media technology, offering high-quality audio and video experience. Technical services, such as hosting and bandwidth, will be provided by industry leaders including Exodus Communications TM Inc. and iBEAM Broadcasting® Corp.

NextBigStar.com will locate Internet servers in an Exodus Internet Data Center (IDC) facility and will utilize Exodus’ high-speed, redundant backbone and network management expertise to establish a reliable and scalable Web presence.

“We are excited that NextBigStar.com has selected Exodus to house and manage its Web operations,”
said Ellen M. Hancock, president and CEO of Exodus.
“We offer the expertise, infrastructure and capacity needed to run a Web site 24×7. It is great to be part of this dynamic new entertainment concept.”

iBEAM TM , a leading Internet broadcasting network, will distribute the streams at multiple data rates via its specialized hybrid satellite and fiber network. This method can deliver high-quality video and audio streams in both live or archived programming to mass Internet audiences.

About Ed McMahon

Ed McMahon began his broadcasting career as a teen-ager in Lowell, Mass. On Sept. 12, 1949, he began his television career at WCAU in Philadelphia and has been broadcasting on television ever since. Through McMahon Communications he has provided entertainment for 30 years on
“The Tonight Show”
starring Johnny Carson and 12 years on the very successful talent show
“Star Search.” “I’m really looking forward to my Internet career,”
he said.
“What an exciting way to join these two entertainment vehicles worldwide!”

About Victory Entertainment

Victory Entertainment Corp. is a diversified, global multimedia company specializing in live action and animated television production, special effects, graphic design and worldwide television distribution. Victory’s preschool series,
“The Dooley and Pals Show,”
will premiere on public broadcasting stations in April 2000, and Victory Television has just completed a pilot for a sci-fi, dramatic hour series titled

Victory has made a strategic decision to develop and produce original content for the Internet, with its premier program being Next Big Star in association with McMahon Communications Inc. For further information, log onto Victory’s Web site at www.victoryentertainment.com.

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, providing consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations with unmatched audio and video quality. Windows Media Technologies, which includes Windows Media Player, Windows Media Services, Windows Media Tools and the Windows Media SDK, is available for free* download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/ . The Windows Media Player is the fastest-growing media player. More than 50 million copies have been downloaded to date – growing by more than one every second.

About MSN

MSN is the network of Internet services from Microsoft that helps people better organize the Web around what’s important to them. The network of MSN services, located on the Web at MSN.com ( http://MSN.com/ ), helps people easily stay in touch with friends and colleagues, make smart and secure purchasing decisions, and get more done. MSN offers award-winning e-mail functionality; personal communications services; wireless services information; customizable access to news; popular sites for personal finance, travel, automotive services, shopping and more; an online community; a Web search engine and directories; and top-rated Internet access.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

*Connect-time charges may apply.

Microsoft, MSN and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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