Saturday, July 21

Turning Tassler: Jericho Rangers

One of the greatest successes made in the past few weeks by Jericho fans is that Nina Tassler seems to have been turned into a “Jericho buzz believer.” Rob Owen, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette even captured part of the puzzle of what turned Tassler around from saying as go the ratings so goes the show.

It seems beyond 20 tons of nuts; dozens of forums; thousands of mainstream and social media stories; and tens of thousands of calls, letters, and e-mails; her entire life was immersed in nothing but nuts and Jericho.

While buying a piece of camera equipment at a neighborhood store, the clerk saw Tassler’s name on her credit card… "I sent you an e-mail,” he said.

When she was about to receive test results from a new doctor … "He comes in with his white lab coat and puts his hands in his pocket … and pulls out a bag of peanuts," she said.

And even now, Tassler finds that when she goes out to plug other shows, like the questionable Kids Nation, the talk always turns to Jericho fans making history.

As Tassler talked it over, she says it dawned on her that this was an example of the “social networking" that the fast-talking, 30-something head of CBS Interactive, Quincy Smith, was always bringing up. And she has even acknowledged that taking Jericho off the air for several months last season "maybe wasn't good for the show."

But let’s hang on that “maybe” for a moment. While I’ve grown to kind of like Tassler, lest we not forget she’s always been a dancer. Even when asked by a critic asked whether she had ever disagreed with CBS’s CEO Les Moonves two years ago, she qualified her answer a little bit…

"Hmmmm. No."

Rule number one, according to Tassler last year, is you never say no (at least when you are, um, hearing a pitch). In fact, that is why in October 1999, even though she said she was worn out after the long "pitch" season as head of drama development for CBS, she took a last minute cell phone call from a producer friend who begged: "He said, 'Look, I don't know if you're going to buy it, but I promise you it'll be the most entertaining pitch you've ever heard. I said okay...."

The show, of course, was CSI. But I submit that Tassler has changed a bit over the past few years as president of CBS Entertainment. And that will continue to be important for Jericho fans to remember. She has long since abandoned her love of promoting great stories in favor of the ratings.

"We've really said to the fans, who have been incredibly loyal and incredibly devoted, 'You have got to be our "Jericho" Rangers. You've got to recruit more viewers,'" Tassler has said. "And so far, it looks like that's what we're going to do."

Of course they are, and then some. Even though we are only in the summer rerun schedule, not a week goes by that I don’t receive a reminder to watch Jericho. But even more telling is that these fans, after Tassler plugged too early (there’s nothing there yet), had a revelation...

If Jericho is to be saved for a complete second season and then a third, it will not be by anyone at CBS. It has to be by the fans. And to do that, they have to move ahead, carving out what is being called Jericho’s Coalition of the Willing.

What this means for CBS is simple. Even if the fans do not overrun the ratings at the start of Jericho’s second season (I think they will because few shows have this much buzz), CBS will be unable to say the fans didn’t do their part. That will be an odd position for the network because social media can be a double edged sword. The more organized fan efforts are today and the more vested they become, the more likely 20 tons of nuts may be an appetizer.

At the same time, Jericho fans might remember that Tassler has gone to bat for many dramas over the years, perhaps even too many. So while there is little doubt her earliest comments conveyed she was uncommitted to the show, I also believe she was likely one of the first advocates to bring Jericho back because of the buzz.

What’s the point? If fans want to turn Tassler from a “Jericho buzz believer” into a full-fledged “Jericho Ranger,” only ratings will do it, no matter what is being said.

Why? Because there may be some reality to the rumor that an abbreviated seven-episode season 2 was to offer closure. And the only way to debunk this notion is to turn even more people beyond Tassler into Jericho buzz believers too. That and, as several stated before, DVD sales.



ka4ist on 7/21/07, 10:09 AM said...

Thanks Rich! As always you give us tons of things to think about. Good, solid, objective information is hard to come by, and you consistently "hit the nail on the head". Thanks again, we're listening.

Anonymous said...

Another great article as usual. Thank you so much for you wonderful insight and advice throughout this whole campaign and beyond. I am glad you are on our side with all the Jericho fans!

kestral on 7/21/07, 10:17 AM said...

Thanks Rich! Another great article. I always love to read your perspective on things. You provide such a clear picture of the situation. I am so glad you have chosen to continue to include Jericho in your articles. Thank you!

Sweet Tea on 7/21/07, 10:27 AM said...

Appetizer? You are so right. Maybe Tassler finally realizes what it is we fans can do and I hope she remembers that during Season 2. Nobody at CBS can say we haven't poured everything we have into this campaign. While some may think the fight is over and they've drifted away the rest of us are in it until...
Nina & CBS got Jericho'ed.
Great article. Thanks.

Rich on 7/21/07, 12:04 PM said...

Thanks YOU all so much. If the "messenger is the message" as they say in my industry, then the fans are this show. My faith in the fans remains.

In fact, we have a surprise in store for Jericho fans next Saturday; just a quirky idea that will generate more buzz before the regular season while adding to our online experience (I love to learn by doing). Guaranteed it will give CBS an idea of what they could be doing; and if not, the fans will be welcome to run with it once I'm done with mine. ;)

Also, in case anyone missed it in the links, let me give another shout out to JS. JS's decision to collect media links on several stories last week became the inspiration for this week's research and story.

All my best,

Sweet Tea on 7/21/07, 12:44 PM said...

Thanks for the shout out. I suppose I need to disclose now that I'm sweat629 on CBS boards. Ha! Must be ethical.
You surely make it a point to torment me. Is it next Sat. yet??
Okay, if I have to wait then I have to wait but you know how I love to run with a good idea and you always have them.

SaveJake on 7/21/07, 12:52 PM said...

Rich for the last several weeks I have felt we were hitting a brick wall. The news of nothing more than 7 episodes for this coming season did in fact seem too much like a closing to me. With JS stepping up and the new Jeriatrics thread attention, this past week has given new light to us. We can do this. We can get the ratings and show CBS they will have to pay attention to us.

Now you're planning a surprise for next week and bringing more light and energy to our campaign. Wow...I can only say thank you again.

This has been a good week for us and to know the momentum is building again is just incredible!
I can't wait to see what you have planned!!! : )

PlatPat on 7/21/07, 1:26 PM said...

I just loved suprises!!! If you tell me now I promise to keep it just between us. . . .

Unknown on 7/21/07, 1:54 PM said...

Thank you Rich for your insight - into Nina Tassler and the show fans love - Jericho. I believe the fans are up to the challangeof getting more viewers as there are quite a few new posters on the boards. However for me 7 in season 2 are not enough.g

Rich on 7/21/07, 2:16 PM said...

What's that old saying? Three can keep a secret if two are ... :)

Well, it's not a super duper surprise, but we like it (now I hope it isn't anticlimactic or anything, hee hee), hope the fans like it, hope it helps buzz up the show, and want to lend something to the already impressive imagination by fans during reruns (with a little help). Sorry to make everyone wait a week, but we have to take care of the details. :)

Glad you liked the insight on Nina Tassler too. Personally, I think if Jericho shines this season it may even re-spark something in CBS (not that there is anything wrong with it).

All my best,

rubberpoultry on 7/21/07, 2:48 PM said...

Hi Rich,

Great stuff as usually! As you recognized, we filled in the metaphorical donut you referred to last time. and are both an effort to bring people together. We can do this!

I'm looking forward to your secret too!


Jayhawkgirl on 7/21/07, 4:52 PM said...

Thanks Rich for another great article : )

Rich on 7/22/07, 8:17 AM said...

Thanks Rubber and Jayhawk,

Always appreciated. And Rubber, right on. In fact, even though the donut hole filling is in development, I've noticed fan efforts are already becoming better coordinated. This can only mean good things for the fans and the show.

All my best,

Susan on 7/23/07, 12:41 AM said...

You never disappoint! Thank you so much Rich for all the support for Jericho and it's fans. I am looking forward to your next "Ranger" article!

Unknown on 7/23/07, 9:55 PM said...

Thank you Rich for being not only really nice, but very supportive of us Jericho Rangers.

If there were more people like you, that'd rock!

Rich on 7/25/07, 12:25 PM said...

Thanks Joseph and Susan,

I really appreciate it. I'm really looking forward to Sat. and Sun. All the pieces are in place. Really, it's not a big deal, but I hope it will be fun for Jericho fans and perhaps some people who have never seen the show.

All my best,


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