Still Clueless After After All These Years

I am in Berlin…and too busy and jet-lagged to post, so here’s some feldergarb-from-the-past. This post is from Sept. 2004 is about a group of fans clamoring for the return of  "Battlestar Galactica" with the original cast…despite the fact that there’s a hit revival of the show already on the air.   What’s even more amazing is that these clueless morons are still at it, three years later…

Yesterday in Variety, a bunch of clueless morons calling themselves The Colonial Fan Force ran a full-page, color advertisement clamoring for a "Battlestar Galactica" movie starring the original cast.

Millions of fans still dream of seeing the Battlestar
Galactica roam the heavens once more in a big screen continuations of
the epic story that began in 1978 with the original cast and characters
leading a new generation of warriors

Yeah, right… there are millions, no TENS of millions, of fans
clamoring for the return of Herb Jefferson, Laurette Sprang, Dirk
Benedict, and Richard Hatch (who is not nearly as powerful an actor as
the nude guy of the same name on "Survivor"… nor as successful). I
suspect the real audience is about 100 fat guys in their 40s, who at
this very moment are busily duping all their Heather Thomas videos onto
That said, I am always amused by the losers who spend their comic book
money on pointless ads like this (or, worse, the ones who publish a
synopsis of, or excerpt from, their unsold screenplays). The
advertising guys at Variety and the Hollywood Reporter must laugh
themselves silly with glee every time one of these suckers comes in.

In the case of the "Battlestar Galactica," the folks at "The
Colonial Fan Force" urge the readers of Variety (most of whom are
entertainment industry professionals) to write writer/producer Glen A.
Larson and Tom DeSanto, a guy who once tried to launch a movie version
of the TV show. This shows just how little the people who paid for this
ad understand about how the business works…and even sillier when you
consider the SciFi Channel is already in the midst of shooting a new
"Battlestar Galactica" TV series from NBC/Universal Studios with an
all-new cast led by Edward James Olmos.

I suppose we have Gene Roddenberry to blame for this, ever since he
cleverly engineered the so-called "viewer campaign" to save "Star Trek"
from cancellation. So now we get ads demanding the return of dull
supporting characters axed from TV shows (the "Save Marina" campaign on
"The L Word" comes to mind) and from the millions of fans still crying
over the demise of "Manimal." I’m looking forward to the "Bring Gloria
Reuben back to MISSING" ads… maybe the Colonial Fan Force can take up
the cause.

I’m sorry, I shouldn’t joke. This "Battlestar Galactica" stuff is
serious business, as is clear from the Colonial Fan Force website:

We’ve got to buckle down, and get to work. It’s going to be
up to each member of fandom to make sure our efforts come to fruition.
The CFF and its leadership will remain active in coordinating fan
efforts as much as possible, but everyone reading this page has got to
accept individual responsibility for making sure that we, as a group,
rise together and speak with one voice. None of us can afford to think
that "someone else will do it." We’ve all got to find some time (and
some stamps), and make it happen. We’ve got to make some collective

This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Think of all the truly
worthy causes that could benefit from the same time, effort and money
these morons are devoting with such earnestness to this idiotic

UPDATE (10-22-04)

As you can see, the above post listed many comments, prompting
me to explain the reasoning behind my opinion about the advertisement
in more detail. For the benefit of those who don’t feel like slogging
through all the comments to find that post, here it is:

You’ll notice that, with the exception of the STAR TREK and NAKED
GUN movies, that none of the many other movies-based-on-TV series that
have followed have starred the original cast, nor have any that have
been announced for development

But that’s not the issue that makes the VARIETY ad so stupid or the
people behind it so…how to put this nicely?…naive and wrong-headed.

These theatrical remakings of TV series are basically trading on the
name identification of a hit series to create a new movie franchise,
which is why they keep the name but cast movie stars in the roles. The
original franchise is the selling point, not the actors. (Which is why
I SPY didn’t have Bill Cosby, it had Eddie Murphy, and why WILD WILD
WEST had Will Smith and not Robert Conrad. And why the new MIAMI VICE
isn’t going to star Don Johnson or Philip Michael Thomas…but Colin
Farrell and Jamie Foxx, instead).

These movies are intended to be blockbusters. And the blockbuster
imperative doesn’t extend to nostalgia-friendly casting, with the
exception of cameos (ie Patrick MacNee as invisible ghost in AVENGERS
or Mark Goddard with one line in LOST IN SPACE) as a sop to the fans.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has been done…as miniseries. The franchise
value is already being mined. And it’s highly doubtful that people will
flock to the theatres just to see Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and

On a whole different level, the ad itself was wronghead, directed at
an audience of writers, producers, directors, and studio heads who
aren’t about to write letters to Glen Larson or Tom DeSanto.

The fans threw $12,000 away on an ad targeted at the wrong audience
for their message (the message itself was wrong-headed, but I will get
to that later, too). They humiliated their cause in the eyes of the
very Industry that the fans were hoping to impress. Industry
professionals who see ads like that in Variety aren’t impressed (any
more than they are buy the struggling screenwriter who spends the money
on a full-page ad to reprint pages of his unsold screenplay). The ad
simply reinforced every preconception Hollywood has about fandom. It
certainly did for me.

(On a side note, even if Glen Larson was dying to do a BSG movie, he
does not have the clout to get a $100 million feature off the ground.
You will notice he is only tangentially involved in the features in
works based on his other TV series. So writing letters to him isn’t
going to persuade a studio to dump money into the revival of a
franchise that is already being mined on television, if in a
“re-imagined version).

The ad in Cinescape, however, was also money poorly spent, though less obviously so. I’ll get to the reasons why in a moment.

You want to revive BSG? I think it’s a lost cause, especially since
the valuable aspect of the franchise is already being mined on TV, but
here’s some constructive advice:

Investing money in trade ads is useless. It’s better to use that
money to organize a grass-roots campaign to make people aware of the
BSG DVD and get them to buy it. On your website, make it look more
businesslike and less fannish.

The trick is not to convince the powers that be that there are
100,000 absolute diehard fans who will do anything to get BSG back as a
feature. You need to convince them there are actually tens of millions
who have at least a passing interest in seeing BSG brought back. You
want to spend money? Spend it on raising awareness among non-devotees
of BSG. Get a groundswell of interest in the show itself. Try to push
the DVD on people who aren’t familiar with the series. This is how it
worked with THE NAKED GUN (on video) and later THE FAMILY GUY and
FIREFLY, which were revived after cancellation because a lot of people
saw the shows on home video and fell in love with them. Those video
sales convinced the studios there was a lucrative market still out

The only thing that will convince a studio (or financiers) to make a
movie is to be persuaded by hard facts and hard cash that there is
still MORE money to be made Slavish devotion by a handful of fans… even
if there are 100,000 of them… won’t bring in nearly enough money to
justify a film.

Bottom line: Expose people to the show, not to your fandom. Expose
studios to sales, not examples that some diehard devotees exist.

Which brings me to the website the advertisement directs readers to.
The design and writing on the website only serves to confirm every
Industry professional and non-fan’s immediate assumptions from the ad:
This isn’t about the quality and merits of a TV show… it’s about a
handful of diehard fans who can’t let go and have no real-world

The more you can do to NOT make this about the fans— and about THE
SHOW, the better chance your campaign has of succeeding. But you’ve
sabotaged yourself, and your campaign, from the outset… by crafting the
wrong message and sending that wrong message to the wrong people. You
need to rethink your image (the name "Colonial Fan Force," for
example), your message, and the best way to present it to the people
you need to reach…

Which isn’t the studios.

It’s the viewers.

3 thoughts on “Still Clueless After After All These Years”

  1. I’m slightly curious about the claim that Gene Rodenberry orchestrated the campaign to get Star Trek back on the screen – on what evidence do you base that claim?

  2. Sigh ….
    Why can’t people just move on? I have *my* BSG dvd’s and memories, the fans of the current series doubtless have theirs, never the twain shall meet and you know we should be able to co-exist without anger. I’ve not seen the remake – but that’s more due to life scheduling problems – too many shows to watch an not enough time to watch them all.
    And, gosh, heresy, here from a BSG TOS fan – aren’t they all… just a little old now? Even if the continuation happened – it wouldn’t be the same. The time and place for a remake was too many years I care to remember go, not now.
    *shakes head and goes to scuttle back under her rock*


Leave a Comment