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Give Me My Remote in the News

April 10, 2006 by  

Today’s issue of The San Diego Union Tribune features an article about TV blogging and how networks are starting to really embrace, well, us bloggers. Karla Peterson, the SD Union Tribune reporter who wrote the piece, was on hand for the Veronica Mars Bloggers Press Day back in February.  Karla followed up with me, and fellow blogger extrodinaire, Dan from DuckyxDale, to get our thoughts on the VM Press Day, as well as TV blogging in general.  I’m finding that reading a quote you gave a reported is like seeing yourself on TV..I’m cringing, thinking…did I really say that?! Leave it to me turn up the dork factor.  Oh well.  Hope you enjoy the article.

TV shows embrace the passion (and value) of Internet fan sites
By Karla Peterson

April 10, 2006

They came to San Diego from Boston; Seattle; Matawan, N.J.; and other cities not known for their friendly February weather. So when the visitors touring the “Veronica Mars” set ended up eating their lunch outside in the rain, you’d think someone would have complained.

But no one did, because no one cared. The skies over the set may have been blustery, but it was a beautiful day in the “Veronica Mars” blogosphere.

On a damp Monday in late February, nine TV fans who devote big chunks of their Web journals to UPN’s savvy detective drama participated in the network’s inaugural Veronica Mars Blogger Press Day.”

After being flown to San Diego and put up at a Marriott hotel (on the UPN/Warner Bros. Television dime), the bloggers were taken by stretch limo to the show’s Kearny Mesa set, where they watched the April 18 episode being filmed. They also schmoozed with cast members (including Jason Dohring, who plays the good/bad boy Logan Echolls); took pictures of themselves in Veronica’s bedroom; and spent a few hours hours hanging out with creator Rob Thomas.

It was UPN’s biggest blog-related project yet, but there will be more where that came from. Because as the Internet gives more and more people the chance to talk about their favorite shows, more and more shows are starting to talk back.

Actors from NBC’s “The Office” have their own blogs on, and they often communicate with fans from their on-screen desks while the show is being filmed. The UPN network hired a public relations firm to monitor the “Veronica Mars” and “America’s Next Top Model” blogs and send press materials to their authors. “Model” bloggers were recently treated to their own press conference with members of the show’s creative team.

On Web sites for the Sci Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” and ABC’s “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” the shows’ creators and writers use blogs to answer fans’ questions, address complaints and drop the occasional plot spoiler, all in an effort to keep the lines of communication open with the people who keep the cult fires burning.

“Sometimes I think bloggers are our journalists,” said “Veronica Mars” creator Thomas, who recently used an online press conference to test fans’ reactions to some possible changes in the show’s format.

“Believe me, I don’t want to turn down press with Entertainment Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly couldn’t have been better to us these last two years. But I feel like the bloggers made the show. In a way, a day like (the press day) is preaching to the choir, but I don’t know that we’d exist without them.”

A recent Google search for television blogs netted 2,400,310 responses, which is fewer than movies (3,969,722), but more than baseball (1,804,310).

And that’s no surprise. As two activities you can do at home while wearing pajamas and eating microwave popcorn, TV watching and blogging go together like Ben and Jerry. Particularly now, when nail-biting reality shows like “American Idol” and cliff-hanging serial dramas like “Lost” make commenting about TV almost as addictive as watching it.

“Movies are more of a one-time thing, and they don’t allow for the kind of speculation that TV does,” said Kathie, a Boston-based blogger whose detailed “Veronica” reports on got her an invite to the press-day event. “Logan (Echolls) can make some snide comment, and there are 15 different ways you can look at it. When things like that happen, people want to discuss what they see and what it means for the future episodes of the show.

“Since I started blogging, the way I view TV has changed. I feel like it’s a whole different experience watching a show knowing that as soon as it’s over, I can get online and talk about it.”

And if you are passionate enough about TV to spend hours of unpaid time on your computer hashing and rehashing the finer points of your favorite shows with other plugged-in obsessives, you are exactly the kind of geek the media gurus are looking for.

“Young audiences really want to be part of the show, and blogs give them that sense of community,” said Shelley McCrory, senior vice president for comedy series at the NBC Universal Television studio, home of “The Office.”


“There is a sense of ownership that makes them very invested viewers. They are talking about the show, they are e-mailing other people about the show. It makes them loyal and active, and it helps us market the show.”

When it comes to a highly invested computer-savvy audience, it would be hard to beat the “Veronica Mars” bunch. Never a huge ratings-getter, this sly, critically acclaimed show about a high school sleuth has managed to rally one of television’s most passionate audiences. And one of the most active.

Since “Veronica” debuted in the fall of 2004, dedicated viewers have used Web pages and blogs to organize TV-watching parties and other events and lobby UPN on their show’s behalf. Concerned that their best TV gal pal might not survive the merger between the UPN and WB networks, the fans at recently created a “Veronica Mars: The College Years” postcard that supporters can send to the network brass.

“Word of mouth is the key to building a strong fan base, and people who are into the Internet and blogs have this addictive personality that keeps them out there looking for information about the things that interest them,” said Dan McCallum, a Boston-based blogger ( who attended the “Veronica Mars” press event.

“ ‘Veronica’ is a show that people are really invested in. So you have 3 million really intense people who are out there searching for anything they can find about the show, because they’re afraid it might actually disappear. People will go to extremes for the things they are really into.”

Fortunately for them, the affection runs both ways. As a reward for their undying loyalty to this underdog series, members of the “Veronica Mars” Internet community enjoy an unusually close relationship with the show and its creator. Thomas is a high-profile poster on the Television Without Pity message boards (where he recently checked in to dispel a cancellation rumor), and he and the cast have done interviews with bloggers on many fan-run sites.

Then came the “Veronica” press day, which turned out to be the virtual gift that kept on giving.

“Once we sent out the invitations, there was instantly a lot of (Internet) chatter about why we invited certain people,” said Joanna Massey, UPN’s senior vice president for media relations. “Then there was chatter leading up to the trip, and there was chatter when everyone got back. And they instantly posted all of their photos, which I love. And then they will blog again when the episode runs (on April 18). With the traditional media, when do you get that kind of coverage?”

The passion does have a price. Whether it is “Lost” fanatics lobbying for the on-screen death of the gun-toting Ana Lucia, “Grey’s Anatomy” supporters calling for the head of the bumbling George O’Malley, or the “Veronica Mars” faithful raging against the divisive Duncan Kane, the most dedicated fans are also the most demanding.

The powers that be would never admit to making significant changes at the bloggers’ request, but as long as the fans are chatting, the shows will be listening. In this attention-deficit world, Internet talk may be cheap, but real human obsession is priceless.

“One of the last things I remember reading on the Internet was someone saying, ‘Doesn’t Rob understand that he’s violating the rules of the world he created?’ And I’m thinking, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not,’ ” Thomas said with a hearty laugh. “But if I had the option of having this incredibly devoted, rabid fan base, or to be a show that people watched but nobody felt passionate about, believe me, I would pick ‘Veronica Mars.’ ”


4 Responses to “Give Me My Remote in the News”

  1. duckyxdale on April 10th, 2006 9:52 am

    we rule – whats her tit can eat her heart out!

  2. tubetalkgirl on April 10th, 2006 12:44 pm

    Hey GMMR! You don’t sound ridiculous! Stop it. That was a great quote. Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

    Tube Talk Girl

  3. duckyxdale on April 11th, 2006 8:48 am

    She sounded ridiculous – let’s face it.

  4. GMMR on April 11th, 2006 9:08 am

    I hate you DuckyXDale. You are the meanest boy EVER!!! 🙂