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The grass roots costs of saving a television show

by Richard Keller, posted Dec 5th 2008 2:09PM

Will sending a George Michael CD to protest Eli Stone's removal be good for you or an added expense you cant' afford.I want to talk to you about a grass roots campaign to save Eli Stone. You see, I had this idea where fans of the program would send George Michael paraphernalia - CDs, MP3s, T-Shirts, programs, videos - to the executive mugwumps over at ABC in order to express their frustration that they were not picking up the back nine episodes of the series. It would have been similar in scope to the Great Peanut Campaign of 2007 that ending up (temporarily) saving Jericho.

Then I got to thinking, which is always a bad sign. While a campaign such as this could result in programming executives opening their minds for just a minuscule amount of time to the possibilities of continuin the series, I'm not too sure it would be worth it. Not 'worth' in the terms that the campaign would fall on the deaf ears of the tailor-suited wonks. I'm talking about 'worth' in what it would cost the fans of the show to get the materials and ship them out to send a message. We are in a recession, after all.

Now, you're probably glaring at the computer screen right now and sarcastically asking 'Well, Rich, how much would it really cost to send a CD to these programming idiots?' Actually, when you think about it, quite a bit. Take the purchase of the CD. Let's say you go to an online site like Amazon to purchase George Michael's Faith album, which contains many songs that were titles to season one episodes of Eli Stone.

On Amazon you can purchase this album for around $9. Factor in a few dollars for shipping, since you need at least $25 to qualify for their Free Super Saver program. Then, since you want to include a specific, insult-laden note, you'll want to have it shipped to your residence to mail it yourself. Add a few more dollars to purchase the padded mailer and some insurance to deliver it. Before you know it, this protest statement has cost you $20 that you can't really afford to lose.

Well, you say to yourself, I'll just download one song that I can burn onto a CD. Okay, that's certainly cheap at about $.99 a song on Amazon or iTunes. But, you may need to purchase an actual CD that you can burn the music onto, and that will cost a few dollars. Include the delivery items mentioned previously and you are looking at a potential cost of $10 or more. I'll just buy it at my local store, you say in frustration. Yes, in that case you'll save money on shipping costs; however, you'll need to factor in the amount of gas you use traveling to and from the (most likely) big box store where you buy the album. Gas you will want to use when you need to look for a new job once you get laid off.

The examples I gave above don't just apply to Eli Stone. It would apply to the other shows, past and present, that people tried to save through a grass roots campaign. Take Pushing Daisies, for instance. The most logical protest I could think of (which has probably been done already) is to send daisies to the network executives. Even in the best of times flowers don't come cheap and sending only one daisy wouldn't even phase the suits. A few dozen per fan...that could say something. But with a basket of these flowers ranging from $30-$35, plus shipping, the outcome of your statement may not outweigh the physical price you pay.

And don't even think about sending pies! If you thought sending flowers was expensive, think about the costs of materials and shipping a homemade pie to these executives. Everything from flour to fruit has skyrocketed in price over the last few years. Then, you would probably need to ship the product in a refrigerated container. Yes, you could certainly order a pre-made pie online, but those aren't cheap either. Some of these frozen pies can run you in the $20 range, not including the cost of delivery.

What it comes down to is what you are able to afford. If you are an avid fan of a particular program, and have some money to burn, you may want to send something like a George Michael CD or a pie to the network executives to show your support for the show. However, since many of us have very little to burn these days, perhaps it's better to startup a letter writing campaign that people, or sign one of the online petitions that have cropped up. Perhaps even sending an invitation out for a flash mob protest in front of the network offices would work. It's certainly better than having your hard-earned money wasted by executives who look at the dollar more than the viewer. What do you think?

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Greg Tidwell

I'd chip in a few hundred bucks for another season of eli stone. and fuck abc, let's just watch it online.

January 05 2009 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's not true at all. Networks are businesses just like anyone else and business requires two things: A person to want something and another person to be willing to provide it. If both those factors exist business can take place.

If someone running a grass roots campaign made enough money to be credible to the networks they would happily tell that person how much they need to make to keep the show alive. All that would be left after that would be for the campaign to buy ad space at the price the network set.

Remember, ratings are only valuable because they determine ad rates. If someone is willing to pay a higher ad rate despite the ratings than the ratings no longer have meaning.

Again, that would be a lot of money so I don't think it will happen but it's as possible as anything else.

December 06 2008 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Mike, it would need to be done in bulk. With that said Stones are something that might actually work. If you could get a couple hundred thousand stones and drop them right on ABC's doorstep with a box that has "Save Eli Stone" on the side you'd probably draw some attention. Because it would take about a day for them to make arrangements to remove the box meaning it would be out there for everyone to see and someone is bound to call a news station in that time.

So that might actually be enough to generate publicity which is what the network would want from such a stunt.

December 06 2008 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The thing is to send in something that takes up a lot of room...not ez to rid of.

One thing that helped Jerico was there was a nut supplier that collected payments then applied them together to get the big orders and deliver truck loads of peanuts to CBS. There would have been little heard if 1000 people sent in little airplane packs.

So going with the stone idea.. if a local supplier took orders that could all be applied toward a dumptruck load of stones and delivered to ABC parking.

Guess the same supplier could start a account for the truck of dirt for dirty sexy money too.

December 06 2008 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cds are way too complicated.

Go out in your back yard, pick up a small stone (get it? preferably granite), put it in a bubble wrap envelope with a letter and send it off First Class. Maybe $2, tops. Low cost, and to the point.

Do like the idea of sending a letter weekly. Mmmm...

December 06 2008 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ralph J. Piocci

Eli Stone and Daisies should be picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel.

December 06 2008 at 3:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The best and cheapest thing to do is send letters or even postcards to the networks of your favorite shows telling them what shows you watch and that you are not a member of a Nielsen family. Tell them how great your shows are and what sponsors crap you buy and how everyone in your family watches it together and any other smoke that you can think of to blow up their asses. I have heard that hand-written letters are like gold to the nets, although I'm 99.99999% sure that Nina Tassler just throws them away or has her lackeys read them. You need to send them 1 letter per week per name and you probably need about 5 million letters per week like that for it to work. It's pretty much too late to do it and succeed once the show has been cancelled.

December 05 2008 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Screw em all. I watched eli stone, pushing daisies and dirty money every week. I'll miss Stone and Daisies...not so much money. I remember some network pushing so-so shows like desperate houswives and grays anatomy on us twice a week to make us love them. What was that network? Oh yeah.
Well they can get rid of lost and samantha who. They already got rid of carpoolers and cavemen. Let the other shoe drop for notes from the underbelly. Kiss my butt and hello history channel and food network.

December 05 2008 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why would you buy a new CD when you get a perfectly good used one for a penny? Popular CDs that people have outgrown (and old unpopular CDs) are often available on Amazon for one cent plus $2.99 postage. "Faith" and "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" are two examples of this phenomenon.

December 05 2008 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've always wanted to set up a charity to help save cancelled or on the bubble shows. I know some people will get offended, saying that we should be sending money to charities for diseases or hunger or the like, but I think it's like buying books for a school. It won't save lifes, but it's the principle of the thing.
I'm thinking Arrested Development orange for a ribbon color.

December 05 2008 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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