Friday, May 18

Getting Nuts: CBS Over Jericho

What would you do with 22,000 pounds of nuts? That's what CBS executives might have to ask themselves if even half of the Jericho fans who have already signed an online petition make good on a grassroots effort that calls for viewers to send in “nuts.”

According to some fans, sending nuts is the best response to the show’s cancellation because it originates with character Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) borrowing the historic phrase in response to a final offer of surrender from a hostile neighboring town. Of course, the response, “nuts,” is tied to General Anthony C. McAuliffe’s answer to a German demand for surrender in World War II.

According to various accounts, when McAuliffe was told of the German demand for surrender he said "Aw, nuts". At a loss for an official reply, Lt. Col. Kinnard suggested that his first remark summed the situation up well, which was agreed to by the others. The official reply: "To the German Commander, NUTS!, The American Commander" was typed and delivered by Colonel Harper to the German delegation. Harper had to explain the meaning of the word to the Germans.

Some fans say they feel the same way, cut off by CBS because they blame the company’s executives for the show’s lackluster ratings. As pointed out by Showbuzz , many viewers abandoned the show only after it went on a long midseason hiatus, much like "Lost" on ABC and "Heroes" on NBC.

This is not the first time CBS has garnered negative reactions related to the show. Fans were upset when CBS did not deliver on its promise to fully produce side stories online and when it removed a fan-generated Wikipedia entry to retain control over what details they wanted fans to remember. Now, some fans have accused CBS of deleting posts in the CBS-hosted Jericho forum.

Since, discussions of the show’s cancellation have spilled onto the main CBS discussion area, which is dominated by fan complaints and pleas at various times. Not to be outdone, fans of other shows on CBS, which were also cancelled, are following suit, creating an interesting statement about social media.

With growing fervor, networks are hearing louder and louder protests over show cancellations that would have barely received mention 20 years ago. Now, due to increased consumer buy-in with rich online content, forums, and deleted scenes, broadcasters might find it more difficult to make decisions without consumer consent. In sum, fans become more vested than ever.

Public outcry is also linked to the knowledge that some shows can be saved. One of the most famous cases was Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. FOX reversed its cancellation after Cartoon Network reruns revived interest and consumers bought 2.2 million DVDs. Of course, it’s always easier to revive a show with animated characters than a large ensemble cast like Jericho. Nuts.


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10 comments:

Rich on 5/18/07, 9:35 AM said...

Famous Last Words:

"Many of you have posted here that you’re curious about how we are taking the cancellation and why we haven’t posted anything in these boards. The fact is that most of us are devastated. I wouldn’t dare try to speak for all of the cast and crew, but I can tell you that I’ve spoken to or exchanged e-mails with about 50 people from the JERICHO family and we are shocked and depressed by the networks decision." — Michael Gaston who played Mayor Gray Anderson on Jericho via Dave Lipman (On The DL).

Kim on 5/18/07, 12:19 PM said...

I've signed the petition and called the CBS comment line. Next I'll be sending some nuts to that inept Nina Tassler over at CBS.

I may be only one viewer, but I won't be watching any programming on CBS in protest. They axed the only original and interesting show they had.

They need to shake up their execs.

Rich on 5/18/07, 12:41 PM said...

Hey Kim, I know you liked the show.

I'm starting to wonder whether this could transcend from show cancellation into true crisis communication. According to the Post-Gazette CBS might not be the only one deserving nuts.

"CBS closed out "Jericho" with the cliffhanger episode that aired May 9. If we're lucky, maybe the producers will spill what would have happened at some point, but CBS has no plans to offer resolution.

While it would be easy to lash out just at the network, the show's producers deserve your vitriol, too. They knew the show was on the bubble and yet they chose to end the season on a cliffhanger. Basically, they gambled and lost. An ending that offered some closure while also allowing leeway for season two would have shown more respect for viewers." — Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor

Rich on 5/18/07, 1:51 PM said...

More words:

A fansite, jericholives.com, has stepped up efforts to continue the fight and reverse what most see as the most controversial cancellation of the year (with about 8 million viewers; 2 million of which are loyal and vocal according to some estimates).

The fansite includes addresses, petition links, and the infamous nuts campaign call to action. Wow!

Rich on 5/19/07, 9:57 AM said...

Famous Last Words;

"Hello Everyone:

This is the CBS Admin - FOR REAL.

The spamming of the other boards by Jericho board members has got to STOP. Trust me, I worked on Jericho - many of you have seen posts from me over there, I posted the answers from the producers every week. I am as saddened as the rest of you are that it has been cancelled.

However, spamming the other boards is ruining the experience for fans of other shows. I know this may seem un-important to you all at the moment and I realize how passionate and dedicated you all were to Jericho. I respect your desire to express your anger or disappointment at Jericho's cancellation but the spamming has now gotten out of control.

Please note: If you continue to spam you will be banned from the boards permanently. You all have established a very thriving community and I am glad that you all found a show that you enjoyed so much and were so dedicated to, but the spamming has crossed over into harrassment at this point. You may continue to post as much as you like and with as much passion as you like at the Jericho boards (with-in the limits of the TOS).

Thank you for your support and cooperation.

CBS Jericho Web Team"

A response on the Jericho Message boards, purported to be CBS-Admin2.

Rich on 5/19/07, 9:59 AM said...

More Words From The Boards:

Below is a statement from CBS Entertainment:

"To the fans of Jericho:

We have read your emails over the past few days and have been touched by the depth and passion with which you have expressed your disappointment. Please know that canceling a television series is a very difficult decision. Hundreds of people at the Network, the production company and the incredibly-talented creative team worked very hard to build and serve the community for this show -- both on-air and online. It is a show we loved too.


Thank you for supporting Jericho with such passion. We truly appreciate the commitment you made to the series and we are humbled by your disappointment. In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide closure to the compelling drama that was the Jericho story." — Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment

kystorms on 5/19/07, 12:38 PM said...

Your Blog is excellent, I hope to learn much from here about effective communication. I would like to add a few things here, and hope that you will allow these thoughts
1. while trying to email the CBS FORUM ADMINS ( the "people" who put that supposed letter from CBS on the site) I got my emails ( 2) back from the address with reason being it is an invalid email address.
2. People are being banned, posts are removed, and the front page kept free of current posts, except CBS ADMINS and the director comments section, and even though on the face of it, it seems the over load of post would be the reason, they know that the only way to disrupt the communications we are having, is to keep the new reader from seeing our current discussions.
Not everyone is web savy enough to know to look at the top of the page at the 50 more tag and know that is where the real information is contained.

This smacks of a control over free speech, and that alone is making many of us angry.
CBS is apparently filtering any emails with Jericho and other such words in them so a majority are not even getting through now.

I would like to ask CBS why open communication scares them so?

Thank you for letting me post here with my views, and for having such a great blog where one can really learn.

Any helpful ideas on how we can all better communicate our thoughts to CBS?

Rich on 5/19/07, 1:48 PM said...

Hi Kystorms,

I appreciate you taking the time to keep me updated (I was writing up my follow up post). It seems to me you are doing everything right in terms of a very effective grass roots viral campaign, one that represents a dramatic change in who networks view as their customers.

It used to be advertisers were the primary customers. I don't think that is true anymore.

Don't forget that. You're more than a viewer; but a vested customer who probably promoted the show. I'm very impressed with what Jericho fans have accomplished.

I might caution you however, while a company silencing its customers is never a good idea, it is not a free speech issue. As a publisher of the message boards, they are well within their right to censor, limit, or control the content they allow. So while I would have advised CBS against such a mistake because it demonstrates their dispassion for show fans, which I consider customers, trying to tie it to a question of free speech dilutes your message. (But you have every right to be angry.)

As far as filtering e-mails, that is their right too. The logic behind it is off the mark; it's the kind of decision-making that could even result in replacement of certain executives who don't see this for what it is: it is a crisis and deserves crisis communication, not typical tried-and-died show cancellation speech. But to each their own.

The bottom line, since you asked, is that you are obviously making an impact given CBS has resorted to very reactionary and unpredictable communication. So even if they filter the message boards and block e-mails, don't look at that as a failure. It's the opposite. All your messages seem to be working extraordinarily well.

All my best,
Rich

sarah on 5/21/07, 3:57 PM said...

We (NutsOnline.com) have shipped over 1435 pounds of nuts to CBS so far today - thanks to the incredible response to our group pool nut shipment. Individuals chipped in anwhere from $5 to $50 to contribute to the giant shipment. Check out the page we put up in response to fans' suggestions just this morning:


http://www.nutsonline.com/jericho


Wish I were in the CBS mailroom tomorrow morning!

Rich on 5/21/07, 4:31 PM said...

Thanks for the update Sarah. It's good to read the fans are "mixing" up their orders: peanuts, mixed nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, and brazil nuts are among the nut orders reported by the store.

Imagine, this is just one store is reporting more than 1,500 lbs. of nuts shipped in just two hours after fans encouraged the store to offer a group discount.

If I was currently working at a daily, I'd be calling CBS to ask about the grand total to date. The public relations practitioners there might start counting.

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