It was bound to happen some time soon, but it appears that 2012 is the year that web-based television -- webivision? -- will go mainstream. TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld made the revelation on Monday morning. "We are less than ten days into 2012, but here is a prediction that is easy to make: We are going to see a lot of original Web TV shows announced this year with big stars," he wrote, pegging his sage-like blog post about the future of online-only teevee content to the news that Tom Hanks is going to launch a new animated web series called Electric City on Yahoo. "On the surface, the Electric City is utopia," Yahoo's head of original programming Erin McPherson told the AP, " and under the surface Electric City is secrets and heavy-handed state control." What a good metaphor for the future of webivision! (Also, Yahoo has an original programming department?) Since, we've had a hard time keeping track of the proliferation of star-studded webivision projects, so we made a list about it.

Tom Hanks in Electric City. Not only has Tom Hanks been working on Electric City for years, he's also going all Renaissance Tom on it, not only dreaming up and producing the show but also voicing one of the characters. It's set to premiere this spring with 20 three- to four-minute long episodes on Yahoo


Louis C.K. in Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater. Louis CK is so smart it hurts sometimes. Last month, Mr. C.K. knocked the Internet's socks off with a very simple project: give him $5 and you get an online-only special. "So it’s odd to see him put one of his shows for sale on the Web and politely ask fans not to rip him off," David Carr wrote about the idea. "The weirder thing? It seems to be working." It worked so well, we wouldn't be surprised to see C.K. go for a repeat performance this year.
 

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. In an attempt to wriggle free of Hollywood's suffocating grip on its content, Netflix is getting into the original programming business this year with House of Cards. When we first heard the name of the show and its star, we secretly wished it were a TV sequel series of sorts to the terribly fun movie 21. It's not.

 


Steven van Zandt in Lilyhammer. Netflix is really serious about this original programming business. Well before House of Cards is due out, the site will launch Lilyhammer, a fun-sounding New York gangster show set in Norway. The star Steven van Zandt is not only the same guy who used to be in The Sopranos; he's the same guy  who once worked as Bruce Springsteen's lead guitiarist. It's reportedly set for a February premiere.


Everybody in Arrested Development. Did we mention that Netflix is serious about its webivision strategy? Arrested Development will return for one season on Netflix only later this year.