Luke: Is this even safe?
Reid: Look, I’m not crazy about the idea of working with a new staff in a backwards operating room, but a brain is a brain.

— Luke and Reid

Call the ATWT Hotline? 1-866-695-1860

The latest rumor running around regarding Luke and Reid has nothing to do with the plotline. Rather, a certain someone or someones have been spreading the word that they have an unnamed friend in an unnamed department at CBS who is claiming that multiple endings were filmed, and therefore we should all call the hotline where we can speak to a live operator. As this page is getting a decent number of hits, let me reiterate: I don’t think this can hurt (how much worse could it be? never mind, don’t answer that), but given the spoilers released this weekend, it seems pretty likely that the ending we will see is already set in stone.

So, since I think this can’t hurt, I’m posting here with some hotline FAQ, suggestions, and additional thoughts. In particular, regardless of how the endgame plays out, assuming the lines are still operating at show’s end we should definitely inundate the hotline with our feedback – good or bad….and it can’t hurt to set the stage now (if nothing else, for most of these call’s it’s on P&G’s dime, not ours!).

That being said, even before this rumor came out, I called twice in the last two weeks (more on that below). The lines have been quiet – no wait either time, vs during Endgame campaigning, when waits were as long as 15-20 minutes. In general, people who have called reported good experience. If you want to call, do so because it’s cathartic and empowering to be active and do something, whether or not it makes a difference. With the Endgame, those of us who participated certainly believe we were heard.

For LRO members, you can view the thread of hotline tips and experiences by clicking here.

If you’re looking for other ways to vent your frustration, send postcards, join the Doctors Without Borders fundraising campaign, and email everyone you can (TPTB, soap magazines, local arts press, gay media) with your thoughts.

I just called and didn’t get a live operator. Does that mean this rumor is completely bogus?

I always assumed if they had any sense, given the rabid fanbases and media attention to this storyline, they’d film multiple endings. But given the "official" interviews being given (between Van’s latest and CG’s) I’m bewildered as to why they’re giving so much of any ending away (especially if they filmed two) and  skeptical about whether there are still any decisions left to be made. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

That being said, I still think it can’t hurt to call. It only needs to take a few minutes and I will continue to call whenever I have something new to say (I mean sheesh, look at  this post – have I ever been short of things to say?!).

Re: the hotline – [b]normal hours are 9am-6pm Eastern Time[/b]. The phone lines were definitely open this week and I’m not surprised it’s not open overnight or over the weekend. I believe it’s a Cincinnati P&G call center, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they share reps with Pampers and Tide (even though they always answer with “thank you for calling ATWT.”

Can I call from outside the USA?

Yes – but it is not toll free. From most countries, dial your international access code (in the UK it’s 00) followed by 1 (the country code for the US) followed by the number. Usually you will hear a message warning you that the call will not be toll free and will be charged just as if you were calling any other number in the USA.

I’m nervous, and I don’t like making phone calls

You aren’t alone. Some things to keep in mind.

What many people have found handy is to think about what you want to say first. If it helps (and I do this if I have a lengthy list of points to make), [b]write down your talking points and keep the list in front of you when you call[/b]. The reps won’t mind if you pause and say “Let me try to remember what else I wanted to tell you….Oh yeah, it was….”

The staff are trained to take phone calls and I’m sure anyone who’s been there more than a week or two has fielded their share of irate, babbling, and ecstatic callers (not necessarily in that order of frequency). Like all call reps, they are trained to listen and take notes, and to ask clarifying questions, but not to take a personal interest.

In the lengthy LRO thread on the subject, there are posts from many first-time callers in our group (and we were all first-time callers once!) who reported it wasn’t as bad as they thought. The reps (all female, as reported – probably more empathetic with P&G’s typical customers) were all very polite and respectful. Some of the more skillful callers even managed to get out of them whether or not they liked Luke and Reid and enjoyed the story as much as we do.

I’ve made articulate “talking points” calls. I’ve also babbled like a gushing fangirl. In a few cases, the reps giggled along with me. [b]Most reps were (and will be) almost completely silent and just allowed the callers to speak, so if you don’t get a response, don’t assume you did a “bad” job.[/b]

Their party line is “Thank you for your call. I will certainly pass your feedback to the creative team. Please call back any time.” If that’s all you get, then you have done your job. Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back.

What should I say?

The most important thing is that you speak from the heart.  If you are a long-time ATWT viewer, I would definitely mention that. If you were introduced to this storyline because of Luke and Reid, you can say that.

I would ALWAYS include some positives. If there weren’t any positives, we wouldn’t care enough to call. So if there are things you’ve loved about LuRe or any of the other storylines, it will never hurt to position things in a positive light.

But please, don’t rant and don’t be abusive. I know many people are truly heartbroken and infuriated. Most of that fury should be directed at suits that set limits on the storyline (not sure if that’s P&G or CBS), and at the creative executives who played along – not the poor women making not so much money taking calls from irate viewers.

The more rational you can make your negative arguments the better. For example, during the Endgame campaign, we tried to focus less on “Noah treats Luke like dirt and is all wrong for Luke” and more on “Reid brings out the best in Luke – he stands up for himself and believes he is capable and deserving of love.” The same thing applies now to the spumored endgame and the fear that it will reek of homophobia.

Ranting makes the rep want to get you off the phone as soon as possible. Impassioned, reasonable pleas will hopefully get your heartfelt message passed along (whether or not it’s heard is another story).

Despite all the impassioned campaigning, I still think TPTB don’t recognize that to many people this is more than “just a story.” When I finished my call this week, I actually thought the rep sounded taken aback, rather than cheerfully neutral per usual. That was my goal, so mission accomplished.

LoveLure’s call on August 10th

I was very active in the original Luke and Reid Endgame campaign – we called (sometimes multiple times a day) begging for more airtime and a real, mature love story – with no Noah. We haven’t gotten the airtime, but we’ve gotten a love story, and very little Noah. So, for that, I wanted to say thanks. When I called a few weeks ago (August 10th, right after the wedding, the Life is Short kiss, and the Go Inside kiss) I wrote on LRO (edited slightly here):

Whether or not it has any influence, I don’t give a flying fig, but there were some important things I wanted to get across. First of all, (IF you can forget the spoilers for a minute), 98% of what’s playing on our screens is about 10,000 shades of awesome (there’s just not enough of it).

  • We’ve gotten kisses 3 episodes in a row. And not just chaste little pecks on the cheek, but full on suckage.
  • Not only have we gotten kisses, but we’ve gotten PDAs – hand holding, snuggling on the couch, touches, sigh
  • Aside from the Nolephant, we’ve got progress from Luke (providing encouragement, not really wanting that much time, and asking Reid to spend the night? WTF?! not that I’m complaining)
  • Luke said "I chose you!"
  • Noah who?
  • Has Luke ever looked so happy?
  • No sex, but I haven’t given up hope

So, I called to say most of the above, plus that I really loved the close of the Molden story – I loved Abigail’s too-short screentime and every scene she was in. I loved Molly’s choice and crying for once for the right reasons – for recognizing the mistakes she’s made, finding the strength to make a healthy choice and set a good example for Abby, and for refusing to be the doormat she’s been. I also have loved Benry for a long time, so I gave my endorsement there, too.

LoveLure’s call on August 26th

My latest call – after the baby toy episode – was prompted by what I felt was one of the most awkward kisses I have ever seen. I’ve been pretty good about turning a blind eye to the gay/straight double-standard (and Van and Eric have been doing a bang-up job trying to make me not notice), but I felt this week’s kiss was so awkwardly choreographed that even the actors were having a hard time with this one.

That coupled with the latest soap mag interviews threw me over the edge. So after my intro thanking them for the lovely scenes these past few weeks, I talked a lot about my disappointment at the lost opportunity. I emphasized that it’s really sad to me, but is clearly playing out as an absolute affront to the GLBT community who have been largely very supportive of ATWT for the last 4-5 years. I pointed out that if the spumors play out, they will have a lot of infuriated (and rightly so) viewers.

I finished off by saying that I felt the rampant leaks over the past few months (that are seemingly proving prophetic) were incredibly unprofessional and ruined much of the suspense (bad or good) in the story, and that I desperately still hope to be proven wrong.

Like I said, I heard what sounded like a surprised pause on the other end, so I don’t think they’ve gotten the message yet how hard the LuRe endgame (coupled with the end of a lifetime of ATWT viewing for many of us) is hitting people, and it’s a message they need to hear.

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