Henry: Here’s the thing, Reid. Once I expose you for who you really are —
Reid: Oh, speaking of exposing, excuse me. Hey, orderly?
Orderly: Yes, Dr. Oliver.
Reid: I need some help with my patient here. He just tested positive for tuberculosis.
Henry: I did not.
Reid: He needs to be quarantined immediately.

— Henry and Reid

Why Nathan won’t buy Firefly, Otalia live in Venice, and Luke and Reid will likely live on only in our memories

I started to reply to a PM I received and a similar post on this subject on LRO, but by the time I got going, I had written nearly 4000 words, so I moved it to here where it ended up closer to 7000 words after edits! (yeesh.)

The core of the question was: what would it take to create a one-shot Luke and Reid epilogue?

Specifically, a fan-based campaign dubbed “Help Nathan buy Firefly,” which has been gaining a lot of viral traction and was even featured on CNN, was cited as a promising model (it actually isn’t).

This question has been asked countless times, and I have had these ideas bouncing in my head for months, so I thought I’d finally get them down on e-paper. My bottom line: I don’t think it will happen.

Here’s why…

Yes, I am Debbie Downer

I am going to be the world’s biggest party pooper and say I think the chance of doing a Luke and Reid epilogue is very unlikely. Not that I don’t want it to happen, but I just don’t think the stars are aligned in the universe to allow it to happen.

Anyone who has followed this board for awhile will know I have been a HUGE cheerleader for LuRe and held out hope ‘til nearly the end despite the very depressing signs littering the landscape along the way.

I’ll keep this post as I originally wrote it, which is as I learned more about this subject myself, but I have to say, I was pessimistic to start, and was even more so by the time I finished writing.

The Firefly story, part 1

I followed the link to the promising example, and it led to a Facebook page for a campaign to Help Nathan Buy Firefly. First regarding the show: FireFly. It’s a space western whose diehard fans call themselves “Browncoats” in honor of the outfits worn by the protagonists on the show. My brother (whom I have to thank for my prior Battlestar Galactica obsession) has been trying (as yet unsuccessfully) to turn me onto it for years now, and it has a big cult following. It’s a Joss Whedon production (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dolls House), and he personally has a HUGGGEEEE following, so immediately, my first thought was that the numbers would be daunting for any ATWT fan.

Firefly fans are described as “one of the most dedicated online fan communities around” – like modern-day Trekkies. As popular as Luke and Reid (and even all soap opera) fans are, we are a niche compared to them. If you need evidence, think of the size of Comic-Con vs SoapFest and you’ll have an idea – Comic-Con is big enough to snarl traffic between LA and San Diego! SoapFest? Not so much.

Firefly was canned for low ratings, and it averaged 4.5 to 4.7 million viewers per episode according to Wiki. As the World Turns, in its final week (which did much better than it had been averaging) received only 2.6 million. 2.2 or 2.3 millions was more typical, so Firefly has twice as many viewers to start. Plus the fans involved are all fans of the show, not just fans of a few of the characters (like Luke and Reid).

If you look at the Facebook page they mention, it currently has 114,657 members. The Reid Oliver Facebook (the largest LuRe site I’m aware of) has 1,779. This one has 1,825, VanHansis.net 3,598, LukeAndNoahFans.com 2,578 and the lure_atwt LiveJournal 1,033. Van’s personal FB has 3,845 and Jake’s 3,502; and Eric’s fan page has 1,209. There is a LOT of overlap between these numbers as I recognize screen names, so I would estimate that at MOST there are 5,000 active fans in the LuRe fandom. Of course there are more LuRe fans, but if they haven’t been interested enough to join, they are less likely to cough up money for the cause.

The Bring Back Firefly page on Facebook has 39,161 members. Even the combined ATWT/GL page which is trying to bring those shows to Oprah’s OWN network has only 2,784 members – and that’s fans of ALL the couples on BOTH shows.

Here’s something I’ve been curious about but just confirmed. I just looked up the most-watched episode on YouTube. It’s CLEARLY the "I Can’t" kiss. It has:

  • 31,542 views on HappyInChintz72’s site (hi, Meggie!)
  • 21,730 on BombayHighway’s
  • 73,099 on LukeVanFan’s and
  • 35,771 on ADL’s site
  • plus probably a few thousand on random fan channels

For a total of 162,142 views. That’s TOTAL. Ever. And how many of us LuRe would have to admit to watching it 2, or 3, or….well, I won’t even venture to guess the most number of times some of us have watched it. So again, the biggest number of unique viewers isn’t likely to approach the 114K fans on the Firefly FB.

Incidentally, if you’re curious about the #1 LuRe video on YouTube, it’s smuchypush’s edited HD clip of the third (second part of the I Can’t) kiss with 61,202 views (again – how many of those were watched on loop?!?) followed by her clip of the first (Dallas) kiss at 54,906 which just edges Black Monday on LukeVanFan’s channel at 54,358. Here are smuch’s clips in case you need a fix:

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Otalia and Venice The Series

But beyond the numbers, a few more reasons I think this is a tough slog.

GL’s Otalia were an interesting contrast to LuRe. Neither got to consummate their relationship, but Otalia lived happily ever after (but never even got to KISS for real onscreen). But still, like LuRe, the pairing was tremendously popular.

Otalia’s Big Purple Dreams fanboard (the parallel to this) reached 4,000 members in mid-May 2009.The seeds for their relationship were sown in April 2008, when Olivia received Gus’s heart. Olivia and Natalia had a very much hate-love relationship for a long time before things picked up just before Christmas 2008.

As of today, with a year or two head start:

Big Purple Dreams members have made a total of 526,432 posts, LRO members 110,501.

  • The most members they had simultaneously online was 1,018 while the show was on-air (but, interestingly, on a NON-Otalia episode date) vs 145 on LRO (on Black Monday, of all days!)
  • They have 6,739 members; Lure has 1,825.

Again, I’m not trying to make us look bad or small. I’m just being realistic.

And I think there’s a lot of data that suggest that Otalia arguably had a bigger, more visible fan base. I don’t know if they were as vocal as Nuke/LuRe fans were, but I do know they were vocal.

Not only were fans vocal supporters of an Otalia epilogue or continuing story, but (and this is important!)several key players, including both actresses were on board as well. In a June 2009 Advocate.com interview with (who else?) Michael Fairman, Crystal Chappell said (after signing on to return to DAYS as Carly Manning):

Gay fans have been so invested in Otalia’s story. We had such high hopes for it. Now that fans see it’s the end of the line for Otalia, in some ways it’s been so devastating and obviously devastating for you.We all have known since April 1st that our show was canceled, and we have all known there was an end date. We all had hopes that the show would continue. I know Jessica Leccia, Ellen Wheeler [executive producer], and Jill Lorie Hurst [co-head writer] all wanted the story line and the show to continue. But as far as I know, as of right now, we all finish taping August 7th. I would love for the show to continue, but unfortunately, or fortunately, I have to work. It became a practical decision, and I don’t know about Guiding Light being picked up.

In your dreams of dreams, if Guiding Light was going to stay on, would you have stayed and not jumped to another show?
Absolutely! That was the idea certainly all along. I told Ellen Wheeler, if she can get the show moved I will be there, and the people at Procter and Gamble. I spoke to Jessica and we said we would be willing to move, and we want to be Web stars, and is there any way we can move the show there? I tried to think of everything I could, not just for the Otalia story line, but also for the show. You know this is their show and their business and they are doing what’s best for them.

In all online reports, it says that you put out feelers to The Young & the Restless too.
I had meetings with everybody in the soap business. Y&R ‘s Paul Rauch [co-executive producer] and I go way back from his days at Guiding Light . I know B&B ‘s exec Brad Bell, I know everybody. When you have been around long enough, you know people. I talked with everybody to touch base.

However, P&G had no interest in prolonging the life of their characters (more on that below), so ultimately, Crystal Chappell moved on to Days of Our Lives; Jessica Leccia is now on OLTL; and Crystal instead launched her own web series (Venice the Series, which recently won a boatload of Soap Opera Spirit awards) whose opening episode featured Crystal and Jessica in new roles….in bed (which some creative fans have edited together with Otalia scenes in fan vids).

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P&G has made it very clear they have no interest in prolonging the life of their characters. I have had conversations with the author of the PGP Classic Soaps site (also Soaps 451, the Mindy Lewis twitter site, and Oakdale Confidential) and P&G has said that they are authorizing no new licensing agreements for their characters, even to people they’ve worked with in the past.

That being said, given the company’s nature, were they to agree to allow their characters to continue, I personally believe that the LAST couple they would want to see revived is Luke and Reid, or Luke and Noah, for that matter (as that would just prolong their association with a gay couple – whose epilogue invariably would involve the very scenes of intimacy that they helped to squelch – after all, if there is not going to be any intimacy, why bother? I’d just as soon read more fanfic).

And I do believe it is an edict from P&G. In a 2009 interview, which appears to have originally appeared in TV Guide, Crystal Chappell defended Executive Producer Ellen Wheeler by saying:

TVG: Due to the writers’ strike, Ellen Wheeler created the Otalia storyline. What started out as an authentic imagining of a soulful love story told so beautifully has made me wonder what Ellen’s impetus was to tell the story. In the end, as an actor, what was it like to see Otalia’s sacred love story being thrown under the bus?
CC: Are you talking about the last episode?

TVG: No, up to the point when Natalia left town. By the finale, I wrote Otalia off. Heck, I was surprised you and Jessica Leccia were in the finale at all!
CC: Hmmm … I think Otalia was burdened by the lack of time involved to tell the story. Let me defend Ellen by saying that towards the end, things were out of her hands.

TVG: That’s good to know.
CC: It wasn’t her decision to not take it forward.

TVG: But what was CBS going to do — cancel the show if they kissed, married or had sex? To me, this proves to me how homophobic P&G/TeleNext is because they refused to promote their most popular couple or treat them fairly.
CC: I know! You’re preaching to the choir. I’ve gone over that in my own mind. I have no answers. Once again, I’m in that why-not stage in my life, so why not have them kiss?

TVG: It’s shocking that on American TV, it is acceptable to murder or rape, but God forbid, two people who love each other show affection. And didn’t you recently state in an interview that GL cut a kiss between Otalia during the finale?
CC: They didn’t film or script a kiss during the finale. I snuck in a kiss on Natalia’s cheek, which didn’t make it to air. There was never an actual kiss in the script….

TVG: What was your initial reaction [to the storyline]?
CC: I was thrilled because there was nothing like it on daytime. The heart and soul of the Otalia love story is that it was — and is — a metaphysical intimacy. I was actually concerned that the fans would find it boring or reject the story, but they didn’t. The fans embraced it, and that’s when I really fell in love with my viewership. I so respect them for getting this story more than they can ever know. Also, Ellen was on the money with this story. She really took care of the story by taking it slow because she was scared the network would pull the story.

TVG: I can’t believe I’m defending Ellen Wheeler but by doing that she actually made the story a big hit because the natural and realistic pacing of the set-up lent to its authenticity and power.
CC: I completely agree. That was the reason why this story was so successful. [In a way, the network’s hesitancy made Otalia, even if they got cold feet in the end.]

So, just to reiterate, I think it’s really unlikely that P&G will allow any new productions involving their properties.

Reuniting Luke and Reid

On the subject of the actors, I think it would be a challenge both to get the key actors together and to recreate the Oakdale sets since I am sure the studios are completely dissembled. Martha Byrne and Eric (at least for now) are in NYC. Jon Hensley and Van are in LA. None are currently committed to series (yet) but scheduling (not to mention budget) would definitely be an issue.

If you’re not going to bring back Lily and Holden or have the Oakdale sets, then it would have to be Luke and Reid on their own in some other setting, in which case, you might as well go the Venice route and get rid of any other contrivances that are inconvenient (for starters, I’d make Van’s character closer to his age!).

However, I think both Van and Eric are trying to move beyond their soap days. I think Eric is probably overwhelmed with our fanaticism and is clearly moving on to bigger and better things. Clearly, the show has brought him ENORMOUS recognition (and well-deserved), but I’m not sure that he’d want to go back to it. I know he’s said he’d work with Van again, but I’m not sure that there would be enough professional career or intellectual challenge in it for him to do it "for the fans" (especially since it would probably be a budget effort if fan-funded).

Re: Van. This is the interesting wildcard to me. We know Van has a lot of respect for Eric (I think he FB’ed that he thinks Eric should win the Emmy), and would also work with Eric again. But if anyone is wary of being pigeonholed as a soap star who plays gay characters, it’s got to be Van. Eric has been very visibly busy since the end of the show, and Van (much to my surprise) has not, for whatever reason – maybe he’s been busy moving, maybe he’s enjoying some time off, maybe he’s shooting for the moon, whatever. I sense he’s also distancing himself away from his past – and that could have been part of why he didn’t submit for an Emmy (my speculation here, nothing he’s said). OTOH, maybe he’ll be cast for a contract role on one of the LA soaps and decide that’s really his calling in life, in which case, more power to him.

But beyond not wanting to be typecast as a soap actor, I’m not sure Van would be willing to do a LuRe epilogue any more than he’d do a Nuke epilogue. I think Van likes both actors and is very appreciative of fans in both fandoms. He has had a loyal Nuke following for many years. I’m not sure he would do a LuRe epilogue simply because he wouldn’t stick it to his Nuke fans. And while many Nuke fans have either converted to LuRe or are actually Noah fans, I think there are some Luke and Noah fans who would be genuinely hurt, and I’m not sure Van would go there. He’s been very careful not to take sides and has been politic in most of his responses, keeping things neutral.

What reinforces this is the last interview I heard with Van (the BlogTalkRadio one with Ryan Holmes). In it, the host (who I do believe is a real personal friend of Jake Silbermann, not a fanboy, or Facebook Friend, as he is frequently accused of being) asked about Luke.

[i]RH: Right now in imaginary-land, what do you think Luke is doing?

VH: Probably whining about something. I dunno. I hope that he’s got the foundation going. Maybe he and Noah are talking. I dunno. It’s been like 3 months. I’m sure lots of dramatic stuff has happened in Oakdale. Maybe Lily and Holden got divorced and back together. I hope he’s happy.

RH: Do you think that somewhere down the line that Luke and Noah would be back together again.

VH: Yeah, I think so. Or very good friends, but I think they will be in each other’s life forever.[/i]

That being said, both have said they’d be open to soap roles though I believe Van said in his We Love Soaps interview (the June one, I think) that he’d prefer not to jump into a contract role right away. Eric I think said in one of his blogtalkradio interviews that he had been contacted about a couple of contract roles and turned them down.

How about a web series?

They might both be willing to do a web series, but if you look at the web series, they share a few common characteristics:

  • Not much footage. Steamboat (Michael O’Leary’s series) has aired 8 episodes ranging in length from 5-9 minutes long (so about an hour’s worth total). Venice (Crystal Chappell) has aired two 12-episode seasons, with each episode ranging from about 8-12 minutes (so about 2 to 2-1/2 hours per season). Gotham (Martha Byrne) did 12 episodes of 8-12 minutes, so also about 2 hours.
  • Each of these series has a veteran star (Michael, Crystal, Martha) with 20-some years in the business who has starred, taken creative control, and been the front-person for marketing. It would be interesting to see
  • I believe each of the shows is locally based. So Venice uses LA-based actors, and Gotham and Steamboat NYC actors (someone can correct me if I’m wrong on this one).
  • None can use their familiar soap characters, though many all steal aspects (Michael O’Leary plays a doctor, Michael Park a policeman who is DEFINITELY not Jack Snyder, Crystal Chappell’ and Jessica Leccia are a lesbian couple).

I think a web series is an interesting possibility, but historically, I have found that I don’t necessarily like the same actors in a new pairing. Think Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Runaway Bride (though Hepburn and Tracy obviously made it work, though their movies were more formulaic to me).

But a few things to keep in mind:

  • Though I think these are mostly filmed in a few sessions, they were deliberately released episodically rather than as a single feature. I don’t know if that’s to retain interest, or because (like the televised soaps began the same way) they hope to increase in length as the format becomes more accepted and they have more funding.
  • If it is released episodically, will we be satisfied with 5-10 minutes a week for 10 weeks?
  • All of these web soaps have the same premise as televised soaps – there is a core cast of 8-10 players or so, and there are multiple storylines. Would we be satisfied with 5-10 minutes shared with 1-2 other storylines?
  • Even though there is not much screen time, the stories are serialized, so time progresses much as it would on a televised soap. Though Gina and Ani start of the series in bed, but Season 1, Episode 7, “Ani asks Gina to let her go. They share a tender kiss goodbye.” (This is a SOAP after all! And all supercouples break up). They are still not back together as of the end of Season 2.

Okay, so how about a feature film?

If we can’t use “Luke and Reid” and Oakdale, because P&G won’t give up rights, and a web series (which seems to be the most successful model to date to give soap stars a vehicle to reach their faithful fans), then how about a feature film?

The only attempt I know of in the soap world to launch something like this was an effort called 9 AFTER 7 productions. I can’t remember everyone involved, but I know Grant Aleksander (Philip Spaulding, GL) was involved, as was Beth Chamberlain, I think (Beth, GL). Fans could pre-buy DVDs on their website and they were going to produce a direct-to-DVD feature film which starred many soap favorites. Again, the budget was minimal and I believe a lot of services were to be donated.

However, shortly (within days or weeks) after they started accepting pre-buys, they sent out an email about some complications with payment processing, and promptly returned everyone’s payments (I remember – I was one of them), writing:

We at 9after7 productions wish to thank you for all your support and for pre-ordering a DVD copy of La Lumiere! Our ambitious and heartfelt project got off to a tremendous start with thousands of hits on our website and hundreds of pre-orders in just the first couple of days, without you this never would have been possible.

On your behalf we tirelessly worked behind the scenes, tweeting, emailing, and podcasting around the world singing the praises of our fans and publicizing La Lumiere all in an effort to bring a top notch movie directly to you.   We were in fact ahead of schedule when suddenly the unthinkable happened.  So brisk were our sales in the first week that PayPal had put an unanticipated yet routine hold on our account and an issue, that we all felt should have taken minutes to resolve, inexplicably turned into hours turned into days.  Unfortunately it wasn’t long before we realized that we could no longer keep to our schedule and deliver La Lumiere to you on time

We had stayed up most of the night thinking of possible solutions, and had indeed come up with several, but in the end we felt it was in the best interest of our fans to authorize PayPal to immediately and fully refund all who purchased the limited Edition DVD of La Lumiere.

We apologize and regret any inconvenience this may have caused you.  But rest assured, though La Lumiere is temporarily on hold we do not intend to stay away long.  The light has dimmed but it certainly has not gone out!

So from all of us at 9after7,
Grant, Beth, Chris, Jill, Fiona, Alex, Maria, Ron, and Tina,

And again, in May 2010, reinforcing the P&G problem, someone named T Smeltzer posted on behalf of Grant on his blog:

This is an entirely NEW project. It is not a new rendition of Guiding Light. It is a feature film with the actors playing entirely new characters. Proctor and Gamble own the rights to Guiding Light and they have not sold the rights and to the best of my knowledge they have not been put up.

9after7 Productions hope to be able to offer this film and other material like it that will appear to long time soap fans.

So, I think it could be done, but it is obviously not easy. They had a very big-name staff – Jill Hurst was a writer, Ron Raines (Alan, GL), Tina Sloan (Lillian, GL), and Fiona Hutchison (Jenna, GL) among others – but still couldn’t make it a go. So I think if this is going to be done, it has to be done seriously, and thought of as a business venture, not a “fun part-time project.”

That’s certainly the way Jake presents Stuffer, and it’s also the way Crystal Chappell and Martha Byrne seem to feel about their series. If it were so easy to make a feature-length film (however it were distributed), we would have all seen Van Hansis’s Occupant by now (which filmed last April, and which, according to Van in Utrecht may not appear until next year)!

If you decide to go ahead anyways…

So, sorry to be pessemistic, but I do consider myself a realist. That being said, if you or anyone else wants to go forward with it, I will be happy to pimp like crazy on my blog (and with all of the sites I send PR info to).

In terms of who to lobby – if you want to use the characters of Luke and Reid, I think you pretty much ahve to start with P&G/Telenext, as they own the copyrights on the creative works (created as work for hire by staff writers). If they don’t buy into it, it’s all a non-starter as they own the rights to the show and characters. Having tried to contact them personally re: making highlights DVDs, I can confirm this is next to impossible. I know the GL/ATWT FB people have had some luck, but they are way more committed than I am on this front. Again – you have to think of it as more of an active campaign to win, not a whim to get anywhere.

If you have any connections in the Industry – use them.

If you give up on Luke and Reid as characters (boo hoo!) and just want to see Van and Eric cast as a gay couple, then I think I’d start with the actors’ agents. Some of the board members who are in the Industry may have a better suggestion, but without those two, what’s the point? Eric has been widely reported as being repped by Gage Group and Vanguard. You can try to reach Van through IMDb Pro (for a fee), the ATWT Fan Club, or Facebook. If they won’t talk to you you, you’d have to be persistent and I would offer to share any statement the agents are willing to release (at least if they officially say “No, X is not interested, thank you for your support.” maybe people will stop pestering them).

How much does it cost?

In terms of budget, I personally have absolutely no idea, but I can give you some benchmarks. The makers of Eric’s film, Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty, estimated $15-25K in post-production. I believe the actors all worked for not-much and all the filming was done on borrowed equipment for free or near-to. This is a feature-length film, and I would guess any epilogue would have to be at least as long, so this is a possible benchmark to start with (your guess is as good as mine on the production costs).

Open Water, the film made by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (who helmed ESS’s new horror flick, Silent House) is widely reported to have cost $130K to make, excluding marketing expenses which is what the $2 million Lionsgate put into it went towards (though the official "budget" is listed on IMDb as $500K). They did this, however, with no crew. They mentioned this during a Silent House interview I transcribed which I found really interesting. The film is nearly 100% only two actors (helps keep the budget down!). And the film crew, apparently was just CK and LL. No sound, lighting, keygrip, gaffer, cue card girl or lunch lady. If you look at the film’s IMDb crew listing, it’s impressively short aside from family and post-production.

The other film I’d use as a benchmark is Jake Silbermann’s Stuffer. Stuffer raised $57,160 on Kickstarter, though I understand much of that came from a few "angels". That was for a 15-minute short with no known actors (well, except for Jake, as far as I know). If you’re not going to pay Martha, Jon, etc., then again, you might as well start over with new characters. I’m not sure if this includes marketing, but it could.

James Yaegashi, director of LLRT, mentioned his Kate Davies’s interview that they shot for 17 hour days for 14 straight days with a crew of three using two borrowed cameras to cut down the need for shooting the same scene multiple times. With three lead actors, that’s roughly 6 people x 17 x 14 (yes, I know not all 6 actors were in all scenes), at a minimum wage of $7.25, that’s $10,353 in bodies (never mind that these people are all “skilled labor.” Add to that the fact that he says, “Truth is $50,000 is close to "no budget" in this industry, and we’re trying to pull this off with half that cost!” With a cast and crew of seasoned New York acting/theatre/TV professionals, they were able to draw on their network to make it happen.

So, based on the above, I would guess if you actually had to pay actors and crew, and secure equipment you’d need at least $100-150K for just the production. Using Open Water as the main benchmark), as they presumably paid at least their actors, but had no production crew and NO SETS! Just the two actors floating in the water and a boat for a few scenes.

But personally I wouldn’t start fundraising until there is at least a hint of interest or open-mindedness from P&G (for Luke and Reid) or Van and Eric (in an indie project with two gay characters not named Luke and Reid). The only exception would be if you think the actors might be swayed by a "We’ve already raised $X,000 argument, so we’re really really serious” argument.

But then, I’m so glad you asked this because this has been a really interesting hour, because I was concerned about fundraising because what if you raise money and nothing happens because P&G/Van/Eric won’t do it? What would you do with the money? Give it back (like 9after7 Productions)? Give it to charity? I could see people getting really pissed if they’re donating to something that is very unlikely to happen.

And what do you do with the funds people donate? If I were donating, I’d be concerned about whose bank account it goes into. How do donors know this isn’t a scam? Would you use something like Kickstarter? Would you have to start a new corporation or LLC to protect the funds/organizers?

Back to Firefly, and why Nathan Fillon ain’t gonna buy it

So that’s when I took a closer look at the Firefly Facebook site mentioned in the forum thread that started off this post. It links to their main site.

First, and interestingly, all the marketing for this effort references Nathan Fillon. Okay, I don’t know him from Adam, but apparently he played the captain of the spaceship in Firefly. On their home page, they actually say:

Now you’re probably saying to yourself “that’s crazy talk! Nathan said don’t do it!”  We say: Nathan specifically told fans not to buy the rights for him, but he didn’t say anything about fans buying the rights for themselves. Our team has discussed this at length, and though we’re really cautious, we just plain feel its worth a shot…. Nathan Fillion gave a great interview to Backstage.  He specifically says not to send any money to a website.  We here at HNBF whole-heartedly agree, which is why we are gauging interest in a fan-funded production instead of setting up a bank account.

CNN received an anonymous email from the campaign organizers (who report being in non-profit management, not the Business) saying that “They say they ‘won’t take a penny’ from anyone until someone like Whedon or Fillion gets involved in an effort to revive the show and would look to set up a not-for-profit foundation or something of the sort if that happens.”

So what does that mean?  If you look at their site, what they are asking for are PLEDGES. When I wrote my first draft of my initial concerns about raising funds, I wrote that it would be VERY IMPORTANT (with caps) to have a visible “out clause.” It turns out the Firefly folks have just such a thing on their page (and it’s much bigger than it appears below)

Big Damn Disclaimer

This is not legally binding. You can’t SEND us this money. Nathan hasn’t said he’d do anything with this. Joss hasn’t said he’d do anything with this. Fox hasn’t said they’d do anything with this. Universal has not said they’d do anything with this.

We’re just finding out, how much is Firefly worth to 100,000 fans – if we could bring it all back with just our wallets. Please don’t inflate your numbers just to boost ours – put only what you really could give presently.

If you look at their pledges, they have just over $1 million in pledges, from 12K pledgers ($85.39 average). I have no idea what a good pledge conversion rate is, but a quick Google search suggests 50-55% for political campaigns. $500K sounds pretty good.

But then an even closer read shows that their latest post, dated March 8th, reads just:

Well, that’s that then

Future updates are only available on our Facebook page.

This had me confused, so I did a little more Googling and came across a post from yesterday on Examiner.com that says:

Help Nathan Buy Firefly shuts down, supports Fillion’s charity Kids Need to Read

Help Nathan Buy Firefly has officially shut down and put its support behind Nathan Fillion’s favorite charity, Kids Need to Read.

On February 17th, Firefly star Nathan Fillion gave an interview with Entertainment Weekly in which he uttered the fateful words ‘If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.’ Browncoats took him at his word, and thus the website Help Nathan Buy Firefly was born. The idea was to raise enough monetary pledges from fans so that Fillion could buy the rights to Firefly and produce it independent of network interference. Read the story of Help Nathan Buy Firefly here.

The site rapidly went viral, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook. With all the support from Browncoats and Whedonites, all that was needed was for someone in charge –Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Gail Berman of FOX– to give the word and the money would start flowing in.

Instead, Fillion and members of the Whedon family gently put a stop to the plan, in a move that has been deemed both wise and unfair by members of the Help Nathan Buy Firefly camp.

Joss Whedon’s sister-in-law, Maurissa Tancharoen tweeted, "Guys, no one in the Whedonverse is in support of www.helpnathanbuyfirefly.com. Please save your money!" According to ScreenRant.com, Tancharoen later amended her statement, adding "that there were no hard feelings from the Whedon clan, but Joss and Co. weren’t comfortable with fans trying to take direct control of the Firefly rights, and even less with them collecting real money to do so."

Instead, Fillion is encouraging Browncoats and his fans to donate to Kids Need to Read, a charitable organization which Fillion supports. On February 24th, the actor tweeted, ‘It’s beautiful to dream of more Firefly, but PLEASE DON’T SEND ANY MONEY. Just keep being great Browncoats, which you are!’ The message is clear: While Fillion appreciates the support of his fans, he believes their money is better spent on a good cause than on bringing back a television show.

Can’t stop the signal: Help Nathan Buy Firefly has officially shut down its efforts to revive the show, and is putting its support behind Fillion’s favorite charity. You can donate to Kids Need to Read by visiting their website.

So, the bottom line is that even the Firefly fans gave up on the idea. Instead, their Facebook page now raises funds for charities of choice for the key celebrities (including Nathan Fillon and Joss Whedon) and the Browncoats: Redemption movie. What is Browncoats: Redemption? It’s an authorized fan film that raises money for charity.

Before anyone gets too excited about it, here’s what I know.From AVClub.com: “The necessarily low-budget ‘labor of love’ picks up the story of the planet Miranda three months after Serenity takes place, with a volunteer crew playing all-new characters in the universe created by Joss Whedon.”

The good news is that they have creator Joss Whedon’s blessing, and the studio’s authorization to distribute the film in DVD format for individual purchase, and for showing at conventions and for charity screenings (their website explicitly prohibits for-profit screenings). The bad news: It’s the equivalent of characters who aren’t Luke and Reid, being played by volunteer fan actors, but happens to be set in Oakdale.

With the main effort to buy rights dead in the water, the “Help Nathan Buy FireFly” Facebook page reports having raised $17K for Browncoats: Redemption (plus $2.5K for individual charities). That’s with 114K members – an average of 15 cents per Like. Aw, c’mon, Browncoats – you can do better than that. Our little fandom raised $18,250 for Walnut Hill AND $20K+ for Doctors Without Borders. And I don’t think it’s because it’s because we’re bigger!

Last, the organizers of the HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com site make a few other interesting points:

There is a team of about 15-20 people that have been working around the clock (and around the world!) the last few days to figure out how we can make something happen, how we can make this work…First off, most of the volunteers behind this venture are businessmen, and we see potential here. Being that you’re here, we’re sure you see it too. 

People all over the world are talking about pooling the resources of the many to fund large, successful, projects. For a while now, some people in the film industry have been proposing fan-funding as a way to fund TV and movie productions, but no one’s been able to pull it off on a massive scale. What it boils down to is this – we believe that you can be the ones to make it work.  Call it what you want… democratic entrepreneurialism, populist production or just plain crowdfunding, we believe it is possible to create the first film company that is owned by the fans and for the fans…Crowdfunding has not been done on this scale before, and we do not expect it to be an easy journey….

We do think it is realistic, though, and many in the industry have voiced support for the general idea over the years. The Firefly following has continued to grow over the past 8 years, and the tools available for organizing have expanded exponentially. It’s important to remember that when Firefly was cancelled, Facebook and Twitter didn’t even exist! And we will use them to our full advantage….

It continues to come to our attention that some folk are upset with us for two things, our anonymity and the fact that we recommended that folks pick up the “Browncoats: Redemption” movie as a way to help bring attention to the movement to bring back Firefly….

On the matter of our anonymity…we actually have real lives that are still going on while HNBF is gathering force. We have spouses that care that we have not yet loaded the dishwasher because we’re too busy working on this little project that happened to interest 100,000 fans whom we don’t want to let down. One thing that we do foresee, once we drop our anonymity, is that we will have a lot harder time making good on the job, which is to provide a possible path to bringing back the show we all love. If you don’t trust us as a result, we cannot really fault you for that. The internet is a wild place, do what you think is best. In turn, for those of you that do decide to trust us, we shall do everything in our power not to let you down. We all want Firefly to succeed and grow, and if you choose to try something not related to us to try to bring that about we can only applaud your efforts.”

As someone who definitely is in their boat (working around the clock, anonymously – the last thing I need is for my tweener to find that mommy is squeeing over Van’s chest hair!), I can completely empathize with the difficulty of their task!

Last, there is a great post on the economics of making this work done by Henry Jenkins, a USC Journalism professor. It’s pretty dry, but fascinating reason for anyone who’s a numbers geek like me. I won’t repost it all here, but let’s just say it reinforces the numbers in spades given that Firefly estimates 200,000 to 2.5 million boxed sets sold (yeah, I know that’s a pretty wide range) at $60 apiece and we have a total of 162,000 VIEWS of the top episode (remember how many duplicates that must include!) on YouTube, which is FREE.

So, all that being said, anyone is still up for reuniting Luke and Reid (or Luke and Noah, for that matter), more power to you. I think your best bet would be to script it yourself and see if you can talk them into doing a charity-reading on camera! I’ll be happy to publicize any efforts to the best of my ability, but I suspect Van and Eric share Nathan’s sentiment:

While Fillion appreciates the support of his fans, he believes their money is better spent on a good cause than on bringing back a television show.

Oh, and in case you’re in need of a good cause to support, there are still plenty of ways to make a difference in Japan….

Good luck!


5 Responses to “Why Nathan won’t buy Firefly, Otalia live in Venice, and Luke and Reid will likely live on only in our memories”

  1. maris says:

    “they are authorizing no new licensing agreements for their characters, even to people they’ve worked with in the past.”

    That’s not quite the truth. Ex ATWT writer Susan Dansby wrote an epilogue with Nuke (and some Lure) fans. I think it’s save to assume she had the company’s agreement. Susan wrote an outline: Luke’s writing again ja missing Noah, Luke gets a phone call that Noah’s been shot, he flies to L.A., he finds out that the shooter was the Colonel, they hide in Noah’s beach house, the Colonel attacks, Noah shoots him, Luke returns to Oakdale, Noah goes after him, they reconcile at the pond and have sex. Fans wrote the dialogue.

    A crappy storyline, what can you expect…

    But maybe they are not licensing any new agreements and this epilogue was a one time deal.

    • lovelure says:

      I have been in contact with Susan, and I am 90% positive it was unauthorized. Not that it was forbidden or that P&G would shut it down or sanction her, but not that it was approved either. There was no money exchanged, which makes it much simpler – so no money for charity, and clearly no profit to be made.

      Also, Susan did not write the outline. It was edited together based on the contributions of the participants. She gave out an initial assignment with a couple of key plot points (one of which is that it was a Nuke reunion), and had some “study questions” which included (I believe – and I am writing from memory) who initiates contact, who is interested in reuniting and who is reluctant, where does it take place, and what happens when they kiss. For one of the first assignments, the participants were asked to write the outline for the episode and she pulled together the various ideas into an outline. So not only did they write the dialogue, they wrote the outline, the breakdown, and the dialogue.

      There were several LuRe fans who participated despite the Nuke focus. One of the things she pointed out, as it was a seminar about how to write a soap opera, is that a soap writer has to write for all the storylines. This includes writing for the pairings you couldn’t give a rat’s patooty about, and storylines that you think make absolutely no sense. As she argued, you can let the Head Writer know that storyline X is the dumbest thing you ever heard, but you never know if it was their baby and you are shooting yourself (and your future career development) in the foot. Part of your job as a script writer is to make sense (or as much sense as possible) about what you’ve been assigned to do. It was an interesting perspective, and a realistic one. And it made it more of a challenge. Remember, script writing is not creative writing. These are not “their” characters, and this is not “their story.” So in a sense, writing around these obstacles (distasteful story, lack of chemistry, unfavored pairing) makes it more like a sudoku!

      I don’t believe there was any “deal” involved (at most, a brief discussion to say, “I’d like to do this, hope you don’t mind; won’t do it if you object.”

  2. maris says:

    You might want to point out the fact that some Lure fans are actually Reid fans, not just the fact that some Nuke fans are actually Noah fans…

    • lovelure says:

      Fair enough and CERTAINLY true. But the comment about Nuke fans being Noah fans was made in the context of creating a Luke and Reid epilogue. I would be very surprised if any Reid fans would object to a LuRe epilogue! 🙂

  3. mmc says:

    As much as i would love to see a Luke/ Reid pairing somewhere, i do think that because of so many reasons that will never be.it’s true the ATWT fans that love them REALLY love them, but that is not all the ATWT fans.And as much as I love Van and want to see him somewhere, anywhere….I think I do understand now why he didn’t submit for the Emmys.His character of Luke was so loved for so long that for his own career he has to start distancing himself from Luke.I do watch the LuRe videos on you tube and I could recite their parts word for word but as much as i love LuRe, love Eric, and love my sweetheart Van, i think they have to put Luke and Reid away somewhere and move on.it’s harder for Van because the character of Luke was at the forefront of a gay storyline in daytime TV.And Van because of his wonderful acting and his gorgeous smile and handsome face it’s so hard to let go of his character of Luke.I wish these actors only the best and if we truly love them enough we have to let them move on.And again thanks for this info LL.you are the best!

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