This press release struck our fancy, because it seems to presage the kind of content development deals that will become more and more prevalent in the YouTube universe. Icebox, Stan Lee Entertainment and Oxygen may have been ahead of their time, but short animated webisodes would seem to have a very viable future. Gotham Group is an agency that handles a ton of animation folk, and holds a huge luncheon every year at San Diego. Variety has a bit of context:

Netcos have been cautious as they began moving into original content in the past year. Yahoo!, in particular, has taken only a few small steps, making this pact particularly notable.

Gotham, which represents much of the top toon talent in Hollywood, will give Yahoo! access to online rights for animated shorts already produced by its clients, as well as new original projects.

“The Internet is the only place where you can make a real business out of animated shorts, which is exciting for the talent we work with,” said Gotham topper Ellen Goldsmith-Vein.

And the PR:

Yahoo! Studios has formed a first-look deal with The Gotham Group to produce and distribute original animated content for the Internet.

“Gotham is committed to finding innovative ways to distribute our artists’ creative work and today’s agreement with Yahoo! furthers that business strategy to mutual benefit,” said Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Gotham Group ceo and founder “We pride ourselves on finding new revenue streams for our content creators and Yahoo! provides a fresh and exciting opportunity for the world to interact with the great talent we represent.”

“We are always looking for opportunities to make dynamic and entertaining content available on Yahoo!,” said Drew Buckley, gm, Yahoo! Studios. “We are thrilled to work with Gotham to create and program compelling animated content for our users.”

Veteran entertainment industry exec Jon Vein initiated the deal and negotiated the agreement on behalf of The Gotham Group, which will draw upon the company’s base of pre-existing animated shorts as well as from original new content.

The Gotham Group is recognized as one of the leading management, packaging, strategic planning and production firms in the entertainment industry. Boasting a roster of more than 250 top directors, writers, producers, illustrators and artists, as well book and comic book publishers, Gotham offers the industry access to a vast amount and variety of creative content. As a producer, Gotham’s credits include live-action and animated feature films and television, children’s programming, prime time television series, as well as animated and family entertainment. Currently, Gotham is a producer on the feature film THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES, set up at Paramount with Nickelodeon Movies, based on the best-selling series of fantasy books written by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. On the television side, Gotham is an exec producer on Aardman Animations’ CREATURE COMFORTS, premiering on CBS Television in early 2007. Gotham also has direct to DVD deals with Lionsgate and IDT Ent.