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CES: Penn Jillette will make you puke

Sony Pictures Entertainment Co. has spent the last six months trying to elevate its online video site, Crackle, as a cut above the creative chaff of other user-generated sites that serve up fat cats watching TV and skateboarding dogs.

It is in this spirit that Crackle announced the premiere of "Penn Says," the first unscripted series created specifically for the Internet by the outspoken comic, magician and pundit Penn Jillette. I should have prepared myself for what would come next: Even the press release describes the short, four-times-a-week videos as a "raw look inside Penn's life."

Penn placed a bean on his tongue, and, through a series of snorts, grunts and painful facial contortions, expelled the bean through the tear duct of an eye. The gross-out feat -- which Penn chose because he was prevented from doing fire eating -- literally made me retch over my keyboard and, for once, appreciate being too busy at the show to eat lunch.

"Remember, this is what I do when they don’t let me do what I want to do," Penn said. "All the Sony people should keep that in mind: You put one barrier up, it’s going to get worse."

I wonder how much worse it'll get for Sony's online site, which has apparently abandoned the creative high ground for the mosh pit.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski


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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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