I can’t go into all the politics behind the scenes of the fan-run campaign to bring back Legend of the Seeker — mostly because I don’t know all the details — but I can say happily that the campaign continues and just a few days ago I became aware of a new initiative.
Legend of the Seeker was a syndicated television show based (loosely) upon Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth novels. Goodkind always supported the show and the show’s fans, which I felt was remarkable for an author. Most authors cringe at the thought of allowing any film or TV production company near their work (at least during their lifetimes) because there are inevitably always changes.
I think one of the things that empowers Seeker fandom in Terry’s eyes is that many people who never heard of the books bought them after watching the show; and nearly all those fans who have shared their personal experiences with me have said they were blown away by the books. For the record I have never read the books and don’t expect to, but that is more because of my personal shift away from printed books to online and broadcast media fandom.
That said, I have tried to do my part to support the television show and its cast and Terry Goodkind’s literary world because I really liked Legend of the Seeker. I know it’s “scaled down” from the books. I know there are book fans who could never accept the show. That’s just the way of fandom.
Legend of the Seeker was only cancelled because of one man’s greed: real estate mogul Zam Zell, who led a leveraged buyout of the Tribune Company in 2007. A leveraged buyout, as best I understand it, is a deal where “investors” put up some of the money to buy a large company and the company itself borrows the rest (to pay off original owners). It’s kind of a crazy concept and admittedly a lot of companies were ruined after leveraged buyouts.
The Tribune Company went on its merry way until the Great Recession caught up with it. By late 2009 the company could no longer meet its debt obligations and in early 2010 it went into bankruptcy. Alas! for Legend of the Seeker, which was then into its second successful season, the Tribune Company owned about 1/3 of the American market where the show was syndicated.
Tribune walked away from its distribution contract for LOTS and the bankruptcy court took Tribune away from Zell. A lot of people were hurt by the way that deal went south. But ABC Studios, which owns the film and television rights to the show, only made a weak attempt to find a new distributor for the show. They turned to SyFy, who ran a couple of unannounced (or poorly promoted) marathons for LOTS. Unimpressed by the numbers and reportedly frightened of the high rate of illegal online downloads, SyFy passed on keeping the show alive for a third season.
When I learned that the show was in danger of being cancelled I started SaveTheSeeker.wordpress.com to keep fans up-to-date on everything I could find out about efforts to save the show. Through the past four years I have occasionally loaned my support (even technical help) to Laura Ventura, the champion of Seeker fandom, whose SaveOurSeeker.com has been the headquarters for the campaign to save or revive the franchise.
Fans have raised tens of thousands of dollars for advertising, set up tables at conventions, put together hundreds of dedication videos, and written thousands upon thousands of letters to find a new distributor for the show. So far there have been no takers but a recent initiative led by SMGO.TV produced promising results. Many of the decision-makers involved in the complex Web of relationships would love to bring the show back.
A few days ago I saw an appeal from Laura where she was asking LOTS fans to write Sam Raimi directly. Raimi seems to be the best hope for a movie at this point. Remember, a LOT of other people want to do this project. It just takes enough support from the right key people (like Raimi) to get the project going forward.
There was never any doubt anywhere about the massive size of LOTS fandom. The question was always more about the money: who can make the money that needs to be made from this project? If online downloading was a huge threat four years ago, it may not be such an issue now. The studios have been building out distribution channels and experimenting with online content. “Veronica Mars” fans did run into some problems with their promised downloads for the movie (which came out this past weekend) but Warner Bros. is reportedly now trying to make good on those promises.
Things have changed for the film industry. They are now beginning to embrace a new era of cooperation with the Internet. I think this is a good sign.
If you enjoyed the show and would like to see the movie, then please send a letter to Sam Raimi:
Ghost House Pictures
315 S Beverly Drive, Ste 216
Beverly Hills CA, 90212
Campaign organizers are suggesting that fans include a picture of themselves with the LOTS DvDs they have bought. I think this is a good idea, and frankly I don’t think it matters if you print the pictures on paper or photograph paper. Just print them out as quickly as possible, as part of your letters.
It is probably no accident that the Seekerfans account has more followers than the SF_Fandom account.
We’ll do our best to keep everyone updated here on the blogs but please don’t give up hope. Hope is the most stable commodity any fandom brings to the negotiating table. Along with a strong batch of patience.