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AngelTrying to save fallen ’Angel’ - Viewers can stir up a fan-fare
Tuesday 20 April 2004, by Webmaster
’Angel’ (starring David Boreanaz) is due to end, but devotees are protesting to the WB. Fan support helped extend the lives of ’Roswell’...
It turns out David Boreanaz’s vampire "Angel" isn’t immortal after all. His WB show is scheduled to die at the end of next month.
But that’s not keeping the actor’s devout fans from trying to work some magic.
Since the network announced in February that "Angel" will end after its fifth season, fans have organized Internet campaigns to persuade the network to bring it back.
They follow a long line of activist TV viewers who have organized to bombard networks with everything from Tabasco (in honor of "Roswell’s" hot-sauce-craving aliens) to bras (sent by "Farscape" fans who wanted to prove that the show had devoted female followers.)
"We believe what the consumer wants should at least be listened to," says Theresa Fortier, a 32-year-old member of SavingAngel.org. "We’ve had Joss Whedon-created programs on for eight years, and this is the last tie we have to his universe."
That universe - Whedon is also responsible for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the failed "Firefly" - is mystical and thought-provoking. It also tends to be populated by beautiful people, appealing to younger audiences.
So far, "Angel" fans have staged two protests outside the WB’s headquarters; raised more than $35,000 to buy ads in trade magazines and drive a truck with a "Save Angel" billboard on its sides, and written countless letters to advertisers and network executives.
WB execs insist the show is through. They say it gets more expensive each year, and the low ratings don’t justify the cost. This season, it averaged 3.9 million viewers.
"We constantly need to make tough calls about shows," says Paul McGuire, senior vice president of network communications at the WB.
But some fans say that, for canceled shows, there’s the possibility of a miniseries, a movie or transition to another network.
When Sci-Fi’s "Farscape" was canceled last year after four seasons, hopeful viewers sent the network flowers, singing telegrams, a Halloween jack-o’-lantern that resembled one of the characters, cupcakes and more. They also used the Internet to try to find financial backers for the program.
Their year-long effort paid off. A four-hour "Farscape" miniseries will air this fall.
"The only reason we’re making the miniseries is because the fans found me a consortium of partners who made it possible to put together," said Brian Henson, the show’s executive producer.
Helping fans network
"The Internet has allowed people who might never get together [to obtain] network addresses and has made organizing so easy," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.
After fans rallied, UPN saved "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Roswell" when the WB threatened cancellation. But those were relatively new shows that were considered to have a shot at higher ratings. Executives say "Angel’s" ratings probably won’t increase.
As for story lines, "Farscape’s" Henson says it was important to tie up the loose ends left when it was abruptly canceled.
"Angel’s" creators are leaving some wiggle room with the final plots, just in case a new opportunity arises. "We’ve answered a lot of questions, but we’re going out with some unanswered things to play with in the future," said executive producer Jeffrey Bell. "There’s been talk about the possibility of an ’Angel’ movie. But we’re going to go out big."
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