I'm gonna go cold turkey after this. I wouldn't even write this except for getting an e-mail message about one of the comments I'd made on a Jericho post, where I said a part of me thinks Carol Barbee's actions are completely reprehensible. That generated one very thoughtful response in e-mail.
The e-mail I received was basically a very nice way of asking me, how and why I could say such a thing about Ms. Barbee. Here is my response.
I'm usually OK with speculating (obviously), and sometimes - sometimes, I'm OK with just completely pulling stuff out of
my...thin air. But not when it comes to talking about shows and the people who love them. I know it will shock you with as much of a misanthrope as I can be that I actually care about people.
It seemed to me that if I wanted to write about Jericho what would be right was to actually watch Jericho. I made it through about the first 3/4th of season one, before conking out because for me, the pace was just to slow. But then with encouragement from fans that the pace quickened pretty much right where I stopped, I finished them up. I did enjoy the remainder of the episodes as well as season two. So I'm writing this as someone who has seen every episode of Jericho (and I watched the finale twice!).
I also read whatever I could, followed the discussions on the CBS Jericho forum and have been following the discussions as they've migrated to SciFi. To call the regulars of these forums passionate and determined is an understatement that doesn't give them nearly enough credit. Not nearly enough. And heck, I don't blame them really because they did something practically impossible - they brought a show back from the dead pool. It's a very, very impressive thing that the Jericho fans were able to pull off and I will not fault them for the spirit of "we did it before, we can do it again!" I'd say, "no way, will they do it again," [and certainly have indeed said that] but in fairness, I would've said "no way!" that they could've done it last time. But they did.
But there's a problem and there's a reason why I am judging Ms. Barbee's character harshly and find her actions reprehensible and at least a little cruel: Ms. Barbee has all the data. She knows all, when it comes to Jericho. Including what is going on in the CBS and SciFi discussion boards.
UPDATE: I have received two messages that Schumi07 referenced here is not leading the chage and although did post one of the messages linked above, the charges are being led by GenPatton43 on the CBS Jericho Boards, by Mikesmom71 on JerichoNet2. I'm not going to change the original post, but wanted to set the record straight. And thanks to Steve W for a lot of info on the fan campaigns which is now at the bottom of this post.
There is very determined woman on the CBS boards who goes by the moniker of Schumi07.
Schumi seems to be leading the "what to do next" push, and Schumi did a little research and some back of the envelope number crunching and concluded with a million downloads a week of a Jericho episode off of iTunes, if CBS' cut on the deal is 65%, 65% of $1.99 million= $1.3 million which would cover like 1/2 the production cost of a new episode. So Schumi's logic is if you could get half of your show paid for like that, why wouldn't you?
So she's recommending a letter writing campaign letting CBS Paramount Network Television (not the broadcast network that aired Jericho, but the production/distribution company with the rights to the show) letting them know you downloaded the show via iTunes or Amazon's Unbox and whether you'd pay for a DVD of a Jericho movie.
The thing is, if a million people were downloading new episodes of Jericho from the Internet at $1.99 per, this would be an exceptionally good case to make. The problem is there are nowhere near a million downloads a week on iTunes for Jericho. If it hits 10% of that I'd be surprised, but whatever it is, it's very, very far south of one million purchases per new episode.
And Ms. Barbee of course knows this and this is why I made the "reprehensible" comment. The way I see it, a kind and compassionate Ms. Barbee would reach out to the fans right on the CBS site and say:
Fans, I love you for loving our show so much. We all really appreciate it and I'm trying to find a way to get the show made, somehow, someway. But sadly, we had nowhere near a million downloads of each new episode at $1.99, and anyone you write to, and anyone we'll try to work with will know that, so again, sadly, that's not the answer. Again, I tremendously appreciate your loyalty and passion about Jericho, and hope we'll find a way to save it. But I wouldn't want to give you any false hope that the show will be saved based on download revenues as based on the actual numbers, that doesn't seem likely.
I'll grant that there's no real upside from Ms. Barbee's perspective to post such a thing, even if I, Robert Seidman happen to think that would be the kind and compassionate way to treat the loyal fans. I don't mind the notion of trying to give fans hope, but I do mind the notion of "false hope", and when it comes to revenue based on Internet downloads, that's all it is.
So Ms. Barbee is a lot more OK with letting the fans spin their wheels than I am. I understand it on one level. While I doubt any sort of a letter writing campaign will succeed this time around, if SciFi gets pummeled with a million letters, they will take notice. If they're pummeled with 12,500 letters? Not so much. And sadly, as with iTunes downloads, the actual number of people who'll mail a letter is far, far south of a million. Still, I'd go so far as to venture more people downloaded off of iTunes then will write a letter to get the show saved.
To Carol Barbee I say: shame on you! Shame on you for giving your fans false hope like that. Shame on you for letting them spin their wheels. Shame on you for not treating them with respect and compassion when they have been so, so loyal to you. Still, for all my "shame on you", I absolutely do understand. And hope that for the fan's sake you're able to pull off a miracle and I wind up having to wash your car and cut your grass for a year.
A P.S. to Schumi, should she ever read this: I have a lot of respect for what you're trying to do and how determined you are, and hope once again, against all odds, you're able to pull off a miracle. Good luck!
Here are all the Save Jericho initiatives in place as provided from Steve W. mentioned above:
Homebase - The New Save Jericho Campaign Thread
Thanks to Junction / Jericho Team (and how to help)
Postcards to CBS/Paramount for Jericho
Postcard Art for CBS Paramount
New Step - Media Interaction
International Media Contacts
National Media Contacts
I think WE started a war
Write to Nance Tellem at Paramount
Write to Sci Fi Channel (with sample letters)
Templates for Stationary, Labels & Postcards
Addresses: Paramount, Sci Fi, CW, Carol, Karim
Sci-Fi Poll (Must pick 5 from each category, write in Jericho as your 6th choice under TV)
If you sent letters/postcards to CBS/Paramount/Sci Fi Channel - tell us here