AI Might Let You Watch Endless Episodes of Your Favorite TV Show

AI-generated South Park episode
A still from an AI-generated episode of South Park that was created from a short prompt.

A company has announced a new tool called AI Showrunner which allows users to create endless original episodes of their favorite TV show.

Considered too dangerous to be released to the public, the program’s creators, a firm called Fable, have shown a demonstration based on South Park.

Fable released a 22-minute long AI South Park episode called Westland Chronicles which follows the ongoing actors and writers’ strike, a protest that is partly motivated by the threat of AI over the industry.

AI Showrunner, part of a wider project titled The Simulation, doesn’t just allow the user to create original episodes of a TV show, but it gives them the opportunity to be in the TV show as well.

By entering a one- or two-sentence prompt, the software can generate an entire episode while also creating a character based on the user’s looks and voice.

Fable’s CEO Edward Saatchi tells GamesBeat that AI Showrunner can do the dialogue, the animation, the voices, and the editing.

“We did the South Park episode as an example and for research to show generative TV. We don’t want to profit from it and we are not releasing a way for other people to do it. We realized it was hard to illustrate how the model works without a comparison,” he says.

Saatchi stresses that the South Park episode was purely for research and he did not ask for copyright permission from the show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone before creating it.

Is This a Good Idea?

Tech Crunch slammed the demonstration saying that showing off an “AI-generated fake TV episode during a writers’ strike is a bad idea.”

However, Saatchi thinks his demonstration of Showrunner AI is perfect timing.

“We are right in the middle of the biggest strike in 60 years, by releasing the research (but not the ability for anyone to create episodes of protected IP) we hope [for] the Guilds in Hollywood to negotiate strong, strong, strong protections that producers cannot use AI tools without the express permission of artists,” he says.

“Frankly the IP holders also need to figure out how to negotiate with AI chatbot companies who are profiting from their work.”

The South Park creators have themselves experimented with AI, releasing an episode this year called Deep Learning that was partially written by ChatGPT and featured AI-generated voices.

Generative AI and Copyright

Hollywood actors are concerned about their likeness being used by AI with the president of the SAG-AFTRA union Fran Drescher saying that “we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines.”

Saatchi states that he will negotiate with intellectual property holders before releasing the technology holders.

Copyright is a huge issue in AI, image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E used millions of copyrighted photos to train their AI programs without asking permission.

However, since so many copyright holders are affected it’s almost impossible to know when a specific AI image infringes on a specific source photo. But, generating a particular TV show, such as South Park or Friends, is a far clearer violation. It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out in the coming months and years.