The New Screen Savers: TWiT resurrects the show that launched tech video into the stratosphere

At the 10-year anniversary event of This Week in Tech, Leo Laporte and the TWiT team announced that on May 2 they are bringing back the variety show that made tech shows a thing.

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Leo Laporte on the set of The New Screen Savers | Image: TWiT

Leo Laporte unexpectedly turned the TWiT retrospective into a launch party on Sunday.

At the event celebrating 10 years of This Week in Tech, Laporte announced that the TWiT Network would relaunch the show that launched his career. The New Screen Savers will debut on May 2, using a show format that will echo the classic ZDTV (later TechTV) show that was such a hit with technology lovers during its run from 1998-2005.

Unlike the original show, which was daily, Laporte will host The New Screen Savers weekly on Saturdays at 3:00PM Pacific. It will stream live at live.twit.tv and afterward it will be available on-demand and as a podcast download. The official site for The New Screen Savers will be twit.tv/tnss.

"This is not something I would have tried even a couple years ago," said Leo, in an exclusive interview with ZDNet. "But we've built this infrastructure over time to be able to do what is essentially a broadcast show over the internet."

The show will be filmed at the TWiT Brickhouse studios in Petaluma, California using a set similar to the original set in the ZDTV studios at 650 Townsend Street. Laporte will host the show every week and bring in a rotating carousel of guest hosts, including current TWiT hosts and a bunch of former hosts from The Screen Savers.

Several classic names from the original Screen Savers are already booked to come on as guest hosts, including Kate Botello, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, Morgan Webb, John C. Dvorak, and Martin Sargent. In fact, many of them were at the 10-year anniversary event but none of them knew about the launch of The New Screen Savers until the announcement was made on air during the show. All they knew was that they were booked to come to Petaluma to do a segment for a new TWiT show.

The New Screen Savers will be more produced than most TWiT shows, which are primarily talking heads discussing the top issues and the most important niche topics in tech.

TWiT CEO Lisa Laporte said, "Leo built TWiT because he wanted to capture the magic of 'The Screen Savers,' and after ten years of building his vision, we decided it was time to launch our very own variety show. We couldn't resist naming it, 'The New Screen Savers.'"

The day before the 10-year anniversary event, Leo and his team were in the TWiT studios rehearsing for the first episode. We caught up with him right after it was over and he said, "We just finished the rehearsal. I'm really impressed by the ability of my team to pull together something this good."

The New Screen Savers will feature seven different segments:

  1. News - Discuss the top 1-2 tech news stories of the week
  2. Call For Help - Answer questions from the audience over Skype
  3. Long variety segment - Rotating
  4. Short variety segment - Rotating
  5. Call For Help - Answer more quesitons
  6. Hot Button - Discuss a trending topic in the tech world
  7. Mailbag - Calls and emails from the audience

People will be skeptical about whether TWiT can recapture the magic, and whether it's even a good idea to try. "The idea is not to relive the past, but bring back that name," Leo said. "That name meant something to people -- the idea that they were going to be honored and valued for being tech enthusiasts [and] that show was going to celebrate it in a way that nothing on TV at the time did... Still nothing really does. And I got tired of waiting."

Leo said he stills regularly meets people who come up to him and say, "I'm a geek because of The Screen Savers." The TWiT team hopes the second iteration of the show will inspire another generation of geeks.