BUCKFIELD — Local guys best known for their experiments with Diet Coke and Mentos have signed a deal with a cable TV network to create a pilot for a new show, based on their explorations with everyday products.
And they plan to shoot some of it right here. In the next few weeks, a crew from Hollywood is scheduled to arrive to film a new experiment before a live, Buckfield audience.
"There's always 100 million ways for this to go wrong," warned Fritz Grobe, one half of the duo known as Eepybird. Hollywood deals have a way of fizzling. "We won't know until the trucks pull up and unload the equipment."
But Grobe and performing partner Stephen Voltz understand fizz.
Their bubbly Diet Coke and Mentos experiments — creating elaborate Las Vegas-style fountains from kitchen chemicals — have taken the guys around the world. They've performed as far away as Istanbul and for several crowds that swelled past the 10,000 mark.
Their videos, including a second wave of experiments that played with sticky notes, have been seen by an estimated at 120 million people and earned three Webby awards.
"We're still pretty anonymous," said Grobe, who had his first out-of-the-blue autograph request this year. Voltz is still waiting for one.
A regular TV gig could change everything.
The pair made the announcement Saturday night at the Oddfellow Theater's "Early Evening Show" in Buckfield, only days after signing the deal with an unnamed network.
The signing ends a year of work to land a TV deal, Grobe said. Some details, including which network signed the duo, are being kept secret for now.
"We'll be able to announce more in the next couple of weeks," he said.
At its most basic level, the signing is colossal for a pair of guys whose first dash of fame came online. Since then, they have appeared on lots of talk programs including the David Letterman Show and in music videos by Barenaked Ladies and Weezer. They signed with a Beverly Hills agent, United Talent Agency. And last September, they unveiled their sticky note experiment simultaneously on the Internet and on TV's ABC Family network.
A TV show of their own would complete the transition.
"It's huge," Grobe said. "There are very few people, if any, who have made the jump to TV from the Internet world."
Yet, the pair plan to stay grounded in Buckfield. It's where they do their best work, particularly with the aid of a community of performers led by Michael Miclon.
"We're thrilled," said Miclon, a comedian who owns the Oddfellow Theater and hosts the "Early Evening Show." Grobe and Voltz unveiled their first experiment on his stage.
Each successive experiment, including a bunch that never made it online, were performed on his stage. In one case, the guys toilet-papered a live audience in seconds by using a pair of specially adapted leaf blowers.
At Grobe's converted Grange Hall in Buckfield, dubbed "Eepylab," are stacks of videotapes featuring other experiments that have never been seen publicly.
The guys plan to pull new routines from those. And they are working to come up with new stuff.
"We keep doing new things, things that haven't been done before," Voltz said.