Flash!9/22/2006 08:00:00 PM Eastern
With Anne Becker, John Eggerton and Jim Benson
Fans Cry Foul Over 'Office’ “Spoiler”
It must have been a cruel summer for fans awaiting the new season of NBC comedy The Office. How else to explain the alarm that followed a New York Times article published days before last Thursday’s season premiere?
While discussing possibilities for product integration in a Sept. 17 Times profile, Office Executive Producer Ben Silverman remarked that “one of the show’s main characters, Jim, was going to be in a long-distance relationship with another character, Pam, 'so naturally they’re going to be text-messaging each other.’”
Blogs and message boards erupted with outrage over what many took to be a spoiler about the fate of Pam and Jim (Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski)—or what one blogger called “the best television romance of the decade.”
Wrote another, “We have waited and wondered since [last season’s finale] ... and with just five days to go, boom!, they ruin the suspense.”
As the season opener revealed, Pam has broken her engagement to the loutish Roy, and Jim has relocated to another office—developments that would seem to indicate that a “long-distance relationship” is in the offing.
Silverman declined to elaborate on his published comment or whether it could have been construed as a spoiler.
“We have rabid fans who love our show and hang on every word,” he says. “It’s fantastic they’re so engaged by the show, and we love that they care so much about it.”
Taking a Bite Out of Piracy
Hollywood is unveiling two weapons in its war on piracy: Lucky and Flo.
No, it isn’t a sequel to the 2005 film Hustle and Flow (or the 1989 classic Tango & Cash). Lucky and Flo are black labradors trained in the art of DVD-sniffing.
In an effort to combat the scourge of pirated DVDs of movies and television programs, Federation Against Copyright Theft and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have trained the dogs to sniff out the polycarbonate used in making disks.
After eight months of schooling in Northern Ireland, Lucky and Flo were unleashed in a trial run in May at Britain’s Stansted Airport, where they found all of the DVDs hidden in a cache of FedEx packages.
The MPAA, which estimates that piracy cost Hollywood studios $6.1 billion last year, will kick off a Lucky and Flo tour next week at its headquarters in Washington in an effort to encourage customs agents the world over to get their dogs hooked on polycarbonates. The tour will stop in Los Angeles, Mexico, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and the United Kingdom.
And if they’re looking for a DVD to plant for the D.C. demo, we suggest Cats.
'Degrassi’ Kids Get Stripped
Everyone’s favorite Canadian TV teens are coming to the U.S. syndication market.
Canadian series importer Program Partners tells B&C that it will soon announce plans to strip episodes from previous seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation on U.S. broadcast stations.
First-run episodes of the high school soap, now entering its sixth season on CTV in Canada, will still run here on MTV Networks’ nighttime teen network, The N. (The new season premieres Sept. 29.)
Program Partners’ Josh Raphaelson and Ritch Colbert plan to work “hand in hand” with their “marketing partner” at The N as they craft cash-plus-barter syndication deals.
The Next Generation is the latest series in a 25-year-old franchise that developed a cult following in this country in the early 1990s, with Degrassi Junior High.
Recent Degrassi season premieres on The N, which reaches 50 million homes, have outdrawn broadcast and other cable networks among women ages 12-34, who flock to the show’s blend of adolescent melodrama and unflinching treatment of controversial social issues like homosexuality and teen pregnancy. (No fewer than six pregnancies have roiled Degrassi over the years.)
At times, that subject matter proved too controversial for The N, which censored some scenes of violence and drug use and initially refused to air a two-part episode in which “school slut” Manny has an abortion.
Since those episodes wouldn’t be slated for syndication for another year, no decision has been made on whether they’ll air.