Angel’Angel’ vampire draws blood from loyal fans
By Tom Baker
Thursday 15 April 2004, by cally
’Angel’ vampire draws blood from loyal fans
Tom Baker / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Online and in the streets, fans of a vampire named Angel are fighting to keep his namesake TV program on the air. Since the Warner Brothers network decided earlier this year to cancel Angel, fans have mailed postcards to network executives, taken out magazine ads and held a March 31 protest rally in front of Warner’s studios in Burbank, Calif.
Some Angel fans have demonstrated their devotion by donating blood in his name, an act that would surely have their sharp-toothed idol licking his lips.
But don’t get the wrong idea. Angel, played by David Boreanaz, is actually a good guy. He’s a monster with a conscience who is trying to overcome his wicked past. According to www.saveangel.org organizer Simon Fleischmann, the show "portrays the ideals of heroism and redemption of past wrongs. Those are things many feel we need more of in our lives. We find a mirror of hope in the characters, in the classic mythical tradition."
Angel, who is centuries old and lives in modern Los Angeles, first appeared on the defunct TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer before being spun off onto his own show. Combining action and suspense with a healthy dose of humor, Angel has lasted five seasons in the United States. In Japan, the first three seasons—66 episodes—have aired on the Fox Channel, which is currently rerunning the third season.
As the sun threatens to set—er, rise—on the gallant vampire, fans are doing their best to extend his lease on immortality. The people behind www.savingangel.org (no relation to Fleischmann’s site) raised money to send a mobile billboard through the streets of Hollywood, bearing the message, "We’ll follow Angel to Hell...or another network."
Theresa Fortier, a media liaison for Saving Angel, told The Daily Yomiuri by e-mail that the truck also was used in the March 31 rally, attended by more than 100 people.
"The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the cancellation and to show The WB (network) what a strong and loyal fan base the show has," Fortier wrote. "Advertisers are always looking for the right outlets for their commercials and what better than a group of intelligent, devoted, passionate viewers. The rally was a positive way to share our love of the show and to let others know that it’s important to fight for quality television."
While Saving Angel has generated a larger U.S. media buzz, Save Angel has focussed on the grass roots. Fleischmann told The Daily Yomiuri by e-mail he regretted there was no official cooperation between the two, but added: "Our groups have, in effect, developed and run in parallel. People involved with both campaigns do communicate... (and) I’ve tried to make sure Save Angel is not replicating what others are doing.
"I’ve aimed to have us focus on individual and local efforts," he went on. "Some of the things we’ve supported and helped with include the initial Save Angel Rally in L.A., Angel’s Blood Drive, and most recently, the Save Angel Food Drive."
On his site’s bulletin boards, a fan identified as Clara from Illinois ruefully posted: "Apparently I paid the ultimate price in my attempts to save Angel because I passed out trying to give blood...Somehow in the ordeal I managed to get a charlie horse in my leg and kick off my boot." But she went on to offer practical advice to first-time blood donors, hoping to help them avoid similar distress.
This comes from watching a TV fantasy?
According to Fleischmann, that’s exactly the point. "The notion that a mere television show can inspire people to do ’good deeds’ runs counter to idea of TV viewers as passive couch potatoes," he wrote. "I think it’s absolutely one of the best things to have come out of the campaigns; no matter what happens, Angel fans have already made a difference in the lives of others."
He also said his group was running an online "petition-survey" that had so far attracted more than 18,700 responses.
The traditional vampire is a lone wolf who manages to survive without friends. It remains to be seen whether Angel will also survive, even with thousands of friends.
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