Assignment X Born From Rubble Of FandomBy Caillan
June 16, 2001 - 2:01 PM
For months, the future of Fandom.com and its subsidiaries has been cloudy, and all hope seemed lost when Cinescape's website went down last week. However, the site has now returned at Assignment X.com featuring a new design and the combined talents of a large group of science fiction sites.
The site is now owned by Mania Entertainment LLC, which was formed this month as a genre-orientated media company, made up of the people behind Eon Magazine, AnotherUniverse, Fandom and Cinescape. According to the company profile, the organisation intends to use fan clubs, retail, conventions, the Internet and other avenues to reach fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror and comics.
A variety of topics are covered by the new website, including not only genre film and television news, but also comics, books, DVDs, toys and games. Additionally, the site includes a new "Fanspeak" section, derived from the old fandomains that used to form part of Fandom.com's main site. These are specialised sections of the site focussing on Batman, Godzilla, James Bond, Star Wars, X-Files and X-Men.
Currently, the Assignment X website seems to be in limbo - various pages in the forum seem to carry either the Cinescape Online logo, or the new Assignment X design. Several of the news items are also quite old, including this article detailing the Sci-Fi channel's acquisition of Babylon 5 spin-off Crusade and this report on UPN giving the go-ahead for the new Dead Zone series. At the moment, Fandom.com redirects to the new site, but Cinescape.com just gives a dead link.
Despite this new online venture, the future of Cinescape Magazine is unknown. A few days before Assignment X opened, Marc Camron, publisher of Cinescape, told Sci-Fi Wire that the publication is dead until a buyer can be found. "We're waiting for a buyer," Camron told the site. "They're trying to sell. [...] We're holding out and hoping. Right now, the staff is out of work and looking for work. We're trying to negotiate a deal to sell the publication and the sister publications as well. There are several interested parties. We are in final stages of negotiation." Cinescape.com appears to have been integrated into Mania Entertainment, but it is not yet known if the magazine will also be acquired.
Assignment X arrived after many months of speculation over the future of Fandom.com and its subsidiaries. The company was founded in September 1999, and within its first year acquired not only independent fan-run websites, but also SF retailer AnotherUniverse, Cinescape and Creation Entertainment, organiser of Trek and general SF conventions.
AnotherUniverse was renamed "Fandom Shop" by the organisation, but after the downturn in Internet advertising revenues, it was forced to close, taking with it the subsidiary online publication Mania Magazine. Once the company acquired Cinescape and Creation, it was forced to lay off 20% of its staff in an attempt to streamline. Gradually, Fandom was forced to reduce operations even further, sacking more staff, and limiting the freelance submissions it published.
The final nail in the coffin occurred in March of this year, when a key investor withdrew its support for the company. Creation Entertainment was sold off, but Cinescape remained online until earlier this month, when it disappeared completely.
Former staff from Mothership.com are also part of the new team at Assigment X. Mothership.com, which was originally named Eon Magazine, merged with SciFi.com in March of this year.