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May 22 2009

Dollverse vs Fox PR. Fox sends a letter to Dollverse advising them some of their posts, treated as facts while Fox denies the information, are doing Dollhouse and Dollverse a disservice and tells them to stop.

What do you guys think? Dollverse is of course, free to publish whatever they would like, and Fox has no right to tell them what to do. Some of their rumor-based articles do come across as facts and as having (at least unofficially) the blessing of Fox, while Fox publicly denies said info. They are definitely not the only site to publish rumors about entertainment properties, if I might practice my understatement for a moment. From the wording and tone (at least as I perceive it) of the letter from Todd Adair, it sounds like this has been an ongoing concern/discussion between the network and the site, though we are told that that is NOT the case.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 17:38 ]

Dollverse should be allowed to publish whatever news they find, but they should present at face value--whatever that value may be. For example, if Fox hasn't specifically said "the episode will air on this date," it should be clearly indicated by Dollverse that this is speculation by them or a third party--not facts from Fox.
They are right about one thing: they mislead us into thinking that Epitah One would air on Fox. Now they said it again. I hope its true but I will be disappointed if its not.

About the disservice, I think the Fox PR was talking only about one occasion. If they're not, they're wrong. Dollverse is a good site.
gossi has cajones. Yay! for the free exchange of publically available information.
Disclaimer: it's my site. The reason ep 13 was listed as airing originally is that FOX PR told both me and The Hollywood Reporter "all episodes will air". Quoting. The query was specifically because we had heard rumours they were planning to pull it.
Right, also "all episodes" from a Fox Broadcasting US perspective is original pilot (not aired) plus 1-12 as they hadn't licensed Epitaph One, which was created by the studio to fulfill international deals for a 13 episode run now that the original ep1 has been sliced and diced. When asked specifically about E1, which they consider episode 14 as they were delivered the original first episode plus 12, they have repeatedly denied licensing it and denied any plans to air it. Of course, they did clarify that late in the game, so it's not really a surprise. It would be nice if they were a little more proactive.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 15:05 ]
At the time neither me nor the trades knew who paid for episode 13 or the licensing thing. It was an unusual situation. Kevin Reilly also said 13 episodes would air, as Simon can testify, 'cos he said it in an interview to the media.
I am just glad it was renewed. And can't wait for my DVD from Amazon.

But I am beginning to hate all television networks.

[ edited by madmolly on 2009-05-22 15:08 ]
By the way, yes, I don't plan to keep posting about this. At the end of the day I'm just glad it's coming back.
Yeah, as I said no one knew about the deals at the time and Fox should've been more proactive in explaining. However, I think he is objecting to the fact that you continue to say Epitaph One will air in the US despite them telling everyone repeatedly (you said so again on the 18th) when there are "no plans" to do so. Or perhaps the way that you are saying it, which makes it seem a fact. And, yes, I realize he did say 13 eps way back when, I "work here", too :).
It was stupid for them to try to tell Dollverse not to post such information. On the other hand, I can understand their frustration. With show fans (understandably) willing to get angry at Fox at the drop of a hat, Dollverse's reporting is setting up some people to be disappointed if the show doesn't air, and that causes the PR people headaches.

Just as Whedon fans are touchy about Fox, Fox is touchy about overzealous fans. It's understandable, and causes people to say and do idiotic things.

Honestly, I think it would be wise to at least keep Fox's point of view in mind when posting information that could be misconstrued and cause them headaches. In the same way, Fox's PR people should step back a bit. They can't order anyone to not report rumors.
Obviously, Dollverse SHOULD (and usually does) make clear its sources for information. I don't think I ever got the impression from Dollverse that Fox had announced something that I later found out they had not announced.

There was ample evidence from Fox to conclude that Epitaph One was going to air as part of the original first season: the statements that "all episodes" would air and the statements that "13 episodes" would air. The fact that people did not know the truth about that was Fox's fault, not that of Dollverse or any other fan/reporting site.

For future practices, I suggest the Gossi include some sort of disclaimer sentence (as annoying as those can be) when posting news/rumors saying, essentially, "Fox has not officially announced ____ ." (I think, actually Dollverse essentially does this most of the time already (though did not on May 18th when stating that Epitaph One would air), but clearly the reading comprehension skills of some people mean that it might be better to make it explicit.)

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-05-22 15:18 ]
But I am beginning to hate all television networks.


Liking a television network is like liking a fast food restaurant or an abusive boss: demeaning and sad. The sooner you see these fuckers as completely amoral businessmen the healthier you'll be.

Of course, the perception among fans that they need information of this kind - spoilers! speculation on air dates! content-free PR interviews with cast members! - is equally sad and merely incorrect to boot, but that would seem to be the nature of fandom. Which is why these communities are so small. (Were they always? No. And that's a depressing topic for another day, I guess.)
Woah, fascinating

Gossi, have you deleted the post saying it was going to air? I scrolled back to find it but couldn't, I might just not have gone back far enough

Having not seen the post (or maybe not remembered it) I can't comment on whether it presented a rumour too much like fact. But in any event, I think this is a ridiculous overreaction to a (possible) reporting error by a really good fan site. Exactly what disservice was the site performing in getting this wrong? What is the dire consequences that will stem from it?

If anything, Dollhouse has been doing good work in stopping FOX PR's own goals eg. placing DH on Friday night without any explanation or comment; or announcing towards the end of the season that episode 13 wouldn't air. If I remember rightly Dollverse was doing its best to make sure that people knew that the show wasn't cancelled

I'd be curious to know what other correspondence that Todd guy had with the Dollverse people. For instance, what errors did they previously email about?
I'm surprised they weren't more bent out of shape about the fact that Dollverse's twitter account is @foxdollhouse.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 15:34 ]
Let Down - we've never had an email from FOX PR or Todd correcting a story on Dollverse before this one, to my knowledge.

The original thing they're complaining about is this, written in March, which contains:

Update: we've been tipped off the May 15th airing of "Epitaph One" (yes, the finale) may be pre-empted by the Prison Break finale. No confirmation on that, and FOX says different.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-22 15:26 ]
When you said "Fox says different" what had you been told directly by Fox about it?
Actually gossi has repeatedly indicated that he has more access to people at Fox then most of the rest of us do, which suggests that Fox PR have actually been trying to cooperate with him. This isn't a cease and desist letter from their lawyers, this was an apparently exasperated (and presumably intended to be private) email firmly requesting that Gossi stop doing something that they felt was counter-productive. It seems to me that Gossi was perfectly well within his rights to argue his case back in private with Fox, but sticking the email on the website and writing a histrionic article about it was an incredibly daft thing to do and I wouldn't be surprised if no one from Fox ever returned any of his calls or emails ever again. In my opinion it isn't Fox who come out of this looking shabby.
I'm not objective about this, gossi is a mate.

Having said that, I do find the tone of the e-mail to be closed and hostile and I suppose that is why it's natural to react in a similar manner.

Fan sites are just that, fan sites. Whether they dress themselves up with credible "sources" for information for not, they are still just fan sites i.e. not official. Whatever I read from where ever I read it I take on board with that in mind.

Dollverse promoted their show. The original information regarding Dollhouse's did not make clear that episode 13 was never going to air, erm, even Felicia didn't know. Perhaps if they had produced or kept their own official site up to date and covered off information then that original "issue" would not have gotten out of control.

Regarding "incorrect" information, I would wonder if Fox is now going around and correcting all of it out there?

This imho comes down to a failure of their part to effectively use their own PR resources. This e-mail justs adds to it. I really don't understand how one website can cause them such a problem!

[ edited by bubblecat on 2009-05-22 16:24 ]
What gets me about this is not the attempt to tell you what to do, but the complete lack of any greeting or 'sincerely' at the end or anything.
dzr, the amount of official involvement FOX has had in Dollverse is and always will be is 0%. As I've said about 4 times here in the past few months, I work for a company who make tuna. It does not bother me if FOX don't want to get involved in the site, because it won't make any difference.
bubblecat is right in that it is absolutely the case that a lot of this confusion could've been avoided by more proactive release of information by Fox. Of course, it does just take one well trafficked site to cause an uproar in fandom. Hell, one well placed comment can do it :). But, as waxbanks says, it's not like they need to tell us everything on our schedule (Now or sooner!).

waxbanks - please watch the stuff like "The sooner you see these fuckers as completely amoral businessmen the healthier you'll be."
This is pretty upsetting. I feel sites like Dollverse help create positive publicity for the show, and perhaps the execs at FOX should help provide some of the information they criticize Dollverse for not getting correctly.

Most of all, I really resent the tone of the email. It's condescending, and reminds me a lot of the abrupt cease and descist of the Buffy Musical screenings.
Am I the only one wary of this thread devolving into an attack on a member of the Whedonesque family?

I'm sure many of us have questions/concerns about this, but I think it's important to remember that gossi isn't just the webmaster of Dollhouse, he's also a member here and has often provided useful information.
Gossi -- I say screw journalistic ethics!!! Tell them you'll toe the line if they'll let you sit in the chair for a little while.
I am somewhat confused, because I seem to have read Fox's email to dollverse as regards a different post to everyone else that no-one's mentioned here, that I can tell. Could this email not refer to the Dollverse article of May 18th, specifically:

Also, that unaired 13th episode of Dollhouse WILL now air. Air date to be confirmed. FOX Broadcasting Corp should take note it is scheduled to air internationally during July in Sweden, so piracy rates will likely be extremely high for this episode if it doesn't make it to air by then.


I.e. not the whole earlier debacle about Epitaph One started by Felicia's tweet, but the more recent news that as a result of renewal, they are now likely to air it.

On the whole I think Dollverse does an excellent job and I appreciate the work done by the site's contributers. However, I do think that the above quote doesn't qualify where they got their information from, and (uncharacteristically) states it as fact. So I can also understand that if this is what Fox PR has their beef with, why they might be annoyed.

Having said that they aren't, IMHO, demonstrating good public relations in their email to Dollverse.
At the end of the day, that e-mail from Fox is rude. If that's their opening gambit with Gossi, then they deserve to be slapped back down.

I've spoken to Gossi at cons a couple of times, and read his stuff on the net. He's never pretended to be anything other than what it is - a fan site, run by a fan.

If fox want to reach a compromise (as they have no right to make these demands), then perhaps a more friendly opening e-mail would have helped.
Personal attacks will NOT be tolerated on anyone. gossi passed this on to us for posting and we would like to have a discussion about it, especially as it involves a prominent member of our community/the man behind the scenes at Dollverse. The usual rules apply, anyone who decides to go rogue will be shown the door :).
I'm not bothered about people attacking me. I know kung ku. (Except, let's be honest: I don't really know kung ku, I can barely tie my shoelaces).

Bluey, you are right - that story failed to state a source, which is subpar and my bad.
Is someone attacking Gossi??? It seems every post here is 100% behind our guy!

***raising dukes*** Nobody messes with my boys! (This is like the digital version of the classic BtVS Family episode.)
I'll help you learn kung fu, g-man ;). Oh, Printy...
Actually gossi has repeatedly indicated that he has more access to people at Fox then most of the rest of us do, which suggests that Fox PR have actually been trying to cooperate with him.


To the best of my knowledge, and as a disclaimer I would like to state that this has not been confirmed nor denied by either gossi or Fox, the people gossi actually usually communicates with in Fox are not the PR people, he generally tends to try and get as close to the source for information as possible (If I am in error gossi please tell me so).

As for doing the show a disservice, the majority of information that I have come across has been from dollverse, not from the Fox PR department. It is dollverse that kept me interested in the show up to it's release not Fox PR. I have to wonder what Fox PR has actually been doing.

As for the tone of the email, honestly, it's rather pointless and childish, they know they have no power here and that someone else out there has been having as much impact, if not more than them, and so they've just thrown a great big strop.
Gossi, - what you're human who makes the occasional mistake, and not some alien who just really likes tuna afterall?!! ;-) My preconceptions have been dashed!

I personally think you did an excellent job of helping to clear up the confusion that existed around Epitaph One after Felicia's Tweet. Thanks.
Consider me 100% behind gossi & Dollverse. Personally I'm thinking the Fox communication back fired since, instead of making the recipient cowed and submissive, it got posted at Dollverse and led to a discussion here at Whedonesque! Indicating that attempts to intimidate fandom usually back fire. If Fox wants to control the news then they need to do it internally, and not by controlling their viewers, the very fans who support their shows. Fox may resent the fact that most fans are wary of what Fox will do to us next, but clearly their memories are shorter than ours, we have reasons for being distrustful.
I find it quite hilarious that such a snotty email is from FOX's PR department.
He didn't say he wasn't an alien who loves tuna, so let's not get carried away in the rumor mill! :)
Yep, sorry Zeitgeist, my bad, I should have qualified: my hunch that Gossi is not a tuna-loving alien was based on no inside or outside or sea-side source whatsover.
You all heard zeitgeist, gossi is an alien making love to tuna, glad we cleared that up. Nothing to see here, move along now.
No, he loves tuna, he doesn't love tuna. At least to my knowledge. Have an email in to sources at gossi's super secret underground lair. Not that he has one... Sh!t!
Nothing changes. It's like when Fox told AnGeL X to stop printing exclusive Buffy spoilers at AngelicSlayer.com a few years back. The corporations love the fans but want to control them.
One, that's a very poorly written letter from Fox.

And two, "misperceptions" is not a word. *eye-roll*
As someone in PR (for my day job) this is a huge mistake, just in the tone of the email. You are a media outlet and he shouldn't talk to someone like that. PR fiasco spelled all over it.

Sure, he could have said - hey dude, you're posting info that's incorrect, can you email me if you have questions before posting stuff? If you're a big enough person to cause him headaches, you're a big enough person to answer a few emails for.
I had Tuna Pasta Bake last night.. it was great!

Thanks for the Tuna, Gossi
Here, here BrownCoat_Tabz.
"Misperceptions" is a word, actually.

/pedant
Not important, but misperceptions is a word :). ETA: Oops, Sunfire beat me to it! Tabz - that's why I asked gossi if it was the opening email or the latest in a series, it comes off as "look we've talked about this many times" and frustrated/hostile rather than "hey, just noticed".

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 16:17 ]
Sources tell me that gossi is actually, in fact, an alien-loving tuna.
It's like when Fox told AnGeL X to stop printing exclusive Buffy spoilers at AngelicSlayer.com a few years back.

How did AnGeL X respond to the demand and what was the outcome of that?
"Clearing up your misperceptions of the show has become very time consuming and frankly takes away valuable time that could be spent actively marketing the series in the proper way." It is the job of a publicist, who works for the network and presumably gets a paycheck, to both clear up misperceptions(not that Dollverse seems to be propagating any, unless the viewer only reads the first sentence, in which case they have no one to blame but themselves)and actively market the series. The subtext of this seems to be that this guy can't do his job and wants someone to blame, so he kicked a fansite to make himself feel better.
dzr, the gentleman from Fox sent an email nastygram to fan internet site. If he really expected it to be "private", his naivite is startling, and I fear for his safety in the big city.
How did AnGeL X respond to the demand and what was the outcome of that?


See for yourself.
Threats only work if you have a basis for them.

"You're breaking the law, and we'll sue you" would work, if that were the case. "We give you info, and if you don't do as we say, we'll stop" might also work. Unfortunately for Fox, neither apply here, so there's nothing they can do!

And Gossi - how do you MAKE tuna exactly? Surely that's the job of a mummy and daddy tuna?!
I just checked the Oxford English dictionary and couldn't find misperceptions. I'm pretty sure it's not a word in the English language.
Wow. So who's in charge of Fox PR? Jayne Cobb?

If Fox PR wants to promote the show, maybe providing information to Dollverse in a timely manner would be a good way to start?

But what do I know about PR?
It might be a word made popular by those who speak with the American tongue rather than those from the Old World.
M-W lists it, though OED doesn't, so Simon is likely correct. The language is what they call "a living, breathing thing".
It might be a word made popular by those who speak with the American tongue.


Yes but surely anyone involved in PR should speak English, and not American? It would be rude not to.

Actually what is the definitive American dictionary?
Yes but surely anyone involved in PR should speak English, and not American?


Didn't the concept of PR (as we know it) come from America? I've seen two episodes of Mad Men so I consider myself an expert on the matter.
Possibly The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, which also lists misperception. Meanwhile, back on topic... :) Simon, I'm totally quoting you on that "seen Madmen" bit!

From WikiPedia:
The history of public relations is mostly confined to the early half of the twentieth century; however there is evidence of the practices scattered through history. One notable practitioner was Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire whose efforts on behalf of Charles James Fox in the 18th century included press relations, lobbying and, with her friends, celebrity campaigning [1].

A number of American precursors to public relations are found in the form of publicists who specialized in promoting circuses, theatrical performances, and other public spectacles. In the United States, where public relations has its origins, many early public relations practices were developed in support of railroads. In fact, many scholars believe that the first appearance of the term "public relations" appeared in the 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature.[citation needed]



[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 16:37 ]
Yes, but Zeitgeist, monsters are also living and breathing things ;). Also, the man used the phrase "moving forward" he's clearly a [-message redacted-ed.]. - disclaimer, this post is purely for comedy purposes only, I have no actual knowledge of Mr PR Fox man's IQ.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 16:42 ]
OED's kinda conservative, yeah. And not necessarily a good authority on American usage at all. The word gets used a lot in the news in the States. Example.

Even as I followed Simon's link (which is a real bummer, by the way), Maurissa Tancharoen tweeted a link to a YouTube video of "Nobody's Asian In The Movies." She'd previously tweeted a link to a fan cover she liked, and apparently someone replied asking about the original.

Long live new media.
No name calling in either direction, please.
The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary (1993), p. 1791, lists misperceive, with misperception as a variant.
Does FOX have any leverage here whatsoever? Gossi could post that Dollhouse has been renewed for five seasons and now stars Angelina Jolie, and they still couldn't order him to shut down, correct? I hope Mr. Adair gets a talking-to from his (presumably more level-headed) bosses over this.

Where did the info that Epitaph One will air over the summer come from? I saw that Nick C posted it but he's been mum about it since last week...
I have absolutely no PR training or experience. Even so, I could probably do a better job at it than this guy.

Hell, the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation could probably do better.

Even as I followed Simon's link (which is a real bummer, by the way),


20th Century Fox went through a phase of being really possessive of the Buffy franchise. Fanfic sites got closed, fan sites got told to remove images and fanart. Anything that had the potential to threaten their profit margin I guess. Which was utterly laughable given the amount of junk that they licensed. Talk about slaughtering the gold goose.
Simon - to be clear, that was 20th Studios, not the network, yes?
Yes it was the studio. I don't think The WB or UPN ever got that medieval on fan sites.
jkalderash I think you're right. It's not Dollverse's fault that fans flock to that site for their Dollhouse information.

I'll bet Mr. Adair was just dealing with this the same as a boss might reprimand an employee. I once shook a wasp's nest. Once.

It seems a nicer tone was called for, since he's asking something of Dollverse and not vice versa. (btw, thats fun to say out loud, Dollverse Vice Versa.)
While I do agree that the May 18th post about E1 did sound as fact report to me too, that letter was way out of line. I would just simply stay out of their scheduling decisions, the rest will (hopefully) go on as usual.
This is a sad example of how detached the media companies all around are from the Internet age. Just because somebody says something you don't like doesn't give you the right to shut them up on the basis of "I'm bigger than you". This is just one more failed attempt at turning the clock back a couple of decades, kind of like Sony Pictures CEO saying "I'm A Guy Who Doesn't See Anything Good Having Come From The Internet. Period."

Bully is a bully, thumbs up for Gossi for publishing this, and responding in such a mild and inoffensive manner! Fan-site is fan-site, I'm sure pretty much everybody spending any time on any such realizes they are not the official information source of the network/whatever. And on the point of Gossi getting more information about the insights of the show compared to Regular Joe, of course he does! I mean, he keeps the site up, actually spends time to check the Fox released information, and goes through the trouble of asking the people in the know.

Again, thumbs up Gossi, keep up the signal.
I think Gossi has been great all this time- he's really helped me understand the intricacies of the ratings that never made much sense before. I think everything that was reported was good information and if better information came along, that was reported too. Nothing wrong there.

I am sure the marketing team have had their a**es handed to them a bunch of times since Firefly was canceled and then was a runaway cult hit when the DVD's came along. Since then it was apparent that if they had a little faith and a little good marketing, everyone would have understood the beauty that is Firefly. They let something go that could have been a monster hit. This probably makes them particularly grumpy and they bind together with the execs and say "we are going to have a little faith in Joss this time" and they want big kudos for that. (and I am sending BIG kudos their way for that!) They take a chance on Dollhouse and they want that to make everything all better, but the fans are still not ready to trust yet. Give us time, Fox. Whedonites are loyal and if you get on our good side we'll love you forever...
I'm sort of relieved by the tone. Talk about your "misperceptions" - your cognitive dissonance. I was starting to worry that the Fox I thought I knew had been taken over by a bunch of creepy pod people with good taste, judgement, and manners. Thoughtless and abrasive - whew - that's better.
I am sure the marketing team have had their a**es handed to them a bunch of times since Firefly was canceled and then was a runaway cult hit when the DVD's came along.


Two things to remember - not all the same marketing/PR folks as back then and DVD sales money goes to the producing studio, NOT the network. This is the network, not the studio.
Just when I was starting to have somewhat fuzzy feelings for the Fox network, here they go and remind me why I shouldn't. Excellent. This email (and the tone of it, especially) succeeded where the cancellation of TSCC didn't. Amazing.
It's worth remembering Todd doesn't speak for the network as a whole, one imagines. Although he is the Publicity Director.
While it's a ludicrous thing for FOX PR to tell a site the can't publish something (although kosher for it to urge a site to not misrepresent, if it thinks the site is), the Dollverse response itself was a pretty classless and self-promotional way to go about handling the issue.
To me his job title suggests that he does, in fact, speak for the network as a whole.
Yes, this isn't Fox (who thankfully realized the power of Joss Whedon fans and said so when they renewed Dollhouse). This is one guy, who responded unprofessionally.
waxbanks - please watch the stuff like "The sooner you see these fuckers as completely amoral businessmen the healthier you'll be."


Which is the objectionable part, out of curiosity? The profanity or the observation that the execs at the various Fox corporations are soulless money-grubbing philistines?
Just wanted to clarify one thing from the Whedonesque summary at the top:

From the wording and tone (at least as I perceive it) of the letter from Todd Adair, it sounds like this has been an ongoing concern/discussion between the network and the site, though we don't know that.

It hasn't. It wasn't raised before the other day - at all - with me.
It's just name calling in general overall. You can fucking curse if you damn well want to :), though in this case "these fuckers" in context would seem to modify the noun we call Todd Adair. b!X, "classless" is likewise a bit name call-y as well as some might interpret it as you calling gossi classless

ETA- will amend that, gossi, thanks!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 17:38 ]
We can fucking curse if we damn well want to?

Good to know. I thought that was grounds for spankage.
They could at least have said "please".
If I say it was poorly-handled and overblown instead of classless, does that work?
Never, ever, send an email or make a post you don't want published and publicized. Never.

It really looks to me like Mr. Adair is reaping the consequences of trying to preemptively control the output of information already released. People shouldn't have talked, they did. This happens, and he has to deal with the resulting confusion. The way to do this is with facts, not bullying or name-calling. The former diffuses the problem in to near-nothingness, the latter blow it up.

"The episode Omega may be shown in some areas, but we have not planned to show it on FOX in this season, and whether it will be on the first season DVD is unknown" covers all of the rumors and lets him get about his business. Rumors would continue to fly -- they always will -- but FOX (both FOX) can now go about their business, having calmed the waters rather than stirring them up.

I find it hard to believe that he doesn't know this at the level it's instinctive. Perhaps the message was a form of trolling, designed to increase interest in the show?
The biggest threat the studio had (back when they were threaten people) was the copyright of images: most (all?) fan sights post a lot of screencaps and other images which might not be in public domain. So long as one is posting only publicity stills (and using them for news purposes) then it would be hard for the studio to enforce that, but of course few of the Buffy and Angel sites wanted to go to court to defend their website as a 'newsletter' or news organization.
I know of some websites that even caved to the point of removing ALL photos of the actors as the characters, and only put up fan photography taken at public events or conventions. It is scary to be threatened by billion dollar conglomerates!
I have no problem with b!X's response, for reference.

Also, I did not leap on his email and publish it straight away. I deliberately did a reply to all as soon as I got it saying, you know... 'you're the publicity department? I'm a viewer? Hello?' kinda thing. No response.
b!X - sounds less personal that way, yes. I want to be clear that I am not encouraging random cursing, but as Simon/Kaylee discussed "appropriate cursing" ;). I know that's a contradiction, sayeth the Kaylee. Use your best judgment.
Just in case Todd is reading:
Quick! someone on the internet might be wrong!
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1417754/
IMDB says Epitaph One will air July 28th. Has for at least a month.
Not that they are known to be the most reliable source or anything.

*sits back to watch the mole hill become a mountain.

[ edited by JadeHand on 2009-05-22 17:53 ]
Unprofessional on the Fox PR guy is the word that screams in my mind, and defensive. Perhaps if the PR department was actually DOING THEIR JOB fansites information wouldn't be a problem. When I want to know something about a show, I search the FANSITES not official studio releases.

It seems to me the studios are just failing us, the fans right and left. They need to face that with the Internet their "control" has left the building. Funny irony of the Hulu ads about just turning our {fans} minds to goo and we should just "sit and watch"

Oddly, I've spent the morning reading about just these issues. My puter was in the shop {gasp} and I was worried I'd lose the link to my not-backed-up favorites. I was very worried I'd lose the link to this video by Lim on fandom,
http://www.imeem.com/sublim/video/LQU2ToIY/us/
after re-viewing I came to find out that it was being shown California Museum of Photography as part of the Mediated exhibit. Finding that led me to this article

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101154811 .
I seem to not know a link code here, sorry.

The studios need to realize fans will no longer just "sit and watch" TV. It has become a three way information exchange, they can {or not} inform us, we'll talk to each other and we expect to be able to communicate back to studios also. This is a good thing.

[ edited by Vinity on 2009-05-22 17:56 ]
The July 28th thing on IMDB is wrong, just FYI.
I'm certain it is. Never thought otherwise. Just giving Todd something else to do.
I'm a little unclear. Is everybody anywhere anytime covered by this no badmouthing rule? Can I not say the Myanmar generals are bastards or Hitler was an evil son-of-a-bitch?
You could but this is neither a Burmese political board nor a place where Godwinning a thread is looked upon favorably. I just try to swear lightly and not often, and never at or about particular people.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-05-22 18:08 ]
Godwinning?

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-05-22 18:12 ]
shambleau - we don't really do name calling here, and it pertains to things actually discussed here. We don't have topics about Myanmar generals or Hitler (though Godwin's Law often rushes in to try to prove me wrong!). When discussing actors/films/other websites/companies/etc. name calling is highly discouraged.

Godwin's Law: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." This has grown to include blogs, IRC, web forums, etc.

Ah, Sunfire said much the same thing :).

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-22 18:15 ]
Godwinning. Now in verb form. I'm all about linguistic iconoclasticness today.
Is it bad off me to not see the terribleness of their email? I think I've been apart of the cynical anime community for years too long - Read way to many corporate email dissections in my 17 years alive. If I was the FOX PR guy, though, I would want to reply in some form to give a resolution to the issue.

Surprised they didn't tackle the seemingly worse issue of Kirk (Charlie) getting fired from Fringe on Fringe fansites.
Wow. A publicity department manages to piss off it's entire show fandom in one fell swoop through having negligible communication skills. What a special special world we live in.
I agree with zeitgeist, please don't go rogue, we don't want the nice people at FOX who have nothing to do with their PR side to think we're a bunch of angry nerds. The e-mail that guy sent to gossi is offensive and misguided, but it doesn't represent FOX's feeling towards the fandom. Kevin Reilly, nicest executive extraordinare, has made it clear he love Joss' passionate fandom for our intelligence, and attacking the PR guy will show them we're not as intelligent as they thought. And did I miss something? Cause I don't remember gossi saying Epitaph One would air in the summer, he simply said it will air at some point.

[ edited by danielgm86 on 2009-05-22 18:25 ]
My 2cts hypothesis on this (in Canadian money, so it's even worth less):

Good sales of DVD would help to keep Dollhouse airing, as the studio can play with a budget still acceptable, even if the broadcast deal is lower.

I think the publicists sees that the (maybe) leaked announcement of "Epitaph One" airing may affect sales of S1 DVD as the inclusion of an unaired episode was a major selling point.

If they're really planning to air it, now, they can't deny it, can they? They can only deny the fact of announcing it, which is the same as saying "Yes, we will air it". They were probably planning to announce this strategically later, letting them time to sell DVDs to people who thought this would be the only way to see ep. 13. They felt cornered in what now they see a failed marketing attempt and might be losing money from this. Maybe pre-orders are way below expectations. How many of us couldn't wait to press "Checkout", but finally told themselves they'd wait for regular price, or even discounts, now that they "knew" they could see ep. 13 on TV?

That might explain their "not helping" and "marketing effort" bits.

They acted as jerks by reacting like this with Dollverse, while they should realize the real problem they should be angry at, is their leak.
An I keep wondering what the propper advertisement the PR guy mentioned is. Naked Eliza all over the internet? Really, that must be propper by his standards.
I kind of see Fox's point. For what it's worth, it is never clear to me whether the tidbits Gossi drops into posts here (or on Dollverse) are fact, hearsay or gossip. It's confusing. I think whether you run a fansite or an official site (I do both and I don't mean Whedonesque), there's a responsibility to keep the signal clear and work with the artists or their people and not get in the way. I try not to post conjecture on the sites I run, and I prefer to keep scoops to myself until I am sure it's ok to publish. I know it is hard to give in to temptation. (I don't always succeed to keep my mouth shut either.) But that's just how I work. I think Fox's tone in this email is over the top, but apparently even professionals can be unprofessional at times. Sounds like a case of 'the final straw' to me though. I'd never publish a private email like that, though. What good does that do?

[ edited by Caroline on 2009-05-22 18:35 ]
danielgm86, I didn't. They misread the post about it airing in Sweden in July I think.

And yes, nobody should be angry at FOX 'cos, seriously? Season two. There's plenty of really talented people at FOX and I love them all for the work they put into the show.

And yes, by the way: I was told ep 13 will air. I never meant to imply (nor did I) FOX had officially announced it would, because they never would: the Fox DVD press release says "never-before-aired". So FOX couldn't say they plan to air it before the DVD comes out, even if they wanted to - that sounds like a reasonable theory to me.

Caroline - if somebody tells me not to publish something, I never do.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-22 18:34 ]
It's rather bad etiquette to publish the contents of an email on a website, though. With that kind of thing you should usually take the opposite approach and not publish unless you have permission.

Whether you have the right to post it, or whether the email was unprofessional, are different questions altogether.
Here's the director of publicity for a TV network. He sent a viewer a rant. I queried it with him and the network - they didn't even reply. Sorry, but I've no problem with publishing it in that situation. It isn't like the guy is a friend - it arrived out of the blue in my inbox.
Things "actually discussed" here have included, among other things, human trafficking and the honor killing that Joss wrote about in, I believe, Somalia. If the board had been active during Angel's first season, when Hero dealt metaphorically with Nazis and She dealt in the same way with forced clitorectomies, then they would have been discussed too.

So, it hardly seems out of the question to me that something along the lines of the Myanmar generals or Hitler would come up, as part of an episode discussion, at least. It was a genuine question. Am I allowed to say something nasty about the people who stoned the 13-year-old Somali girl to death, if it comes up in a thread? As far as actors, other posters, etc,I already understand.
Well, gossi definitely has the RIGHT to publish it. And, I'm not even sure that gossi should feel obliged to ask for permission before publishing it. If he wrote back to them first and received no reply, there's no reason he can't go ahead and publish it. (It may annoy the PR department, which will make them less likely to give gossi information int he future, but the havent' been giving him information anyway.)
PR emails are published all the time by angry bloggers - and they really are annoying when you screw up, but they do cause other PR professionals to realize how to deal with sites. Yes, sometimes gossi's information sounds legit, but this in particular didn't. And Todd could just just reply.

The content is not what I have a problem with - it's the tone. No one in the PR industry should talk that way with an outlet - no matter how small or fannish it might be.
shambleau - if you have questions in future, please email us about it. We aren't going to give you any grief for calling the actions of people stoning a girl to death monstrous/horrific/what have you. The rule is to discourage dismissing the opinions/actions of folks who you simply disagree with, not to squash discussion of important issues and our honest reactions to them. There is a world of difference between the two, as I know you already understand.
Go Dollverse! If the Fox publicity is so incompetent to be threatened by you, it must be because your doing a far better job than they ever did. The publicity department has shot themselves in the foot over and over again, and this time it looks like they're aiming for their head.
Maybe that's the whole point, they can't air it until the DVD is out. I was positive you hadn't published anything about a summer air date, and you didn't even tweet about it either. A few days ago Maurissa tweeted that it definitely won't air in the summer, so everyone's been on the same page for a while. It seems the PR guy is really misinformed. Couldn't he just read Dollverse posts paying a little attention? He's too busy publishing naked Eliza picture, it seems.
Seemed like the PR guy simply had his hands full dealing with Fox's decision not to air the non-series 13th episode. If it wasn't Dollverse that highlighted that situation, it would have been Variety and other tv news sites. Ultimately, the PR department's problem was with the non-airing of the episode, not with those who reported on it.
I think that Todd actually DID read gossi's post pretty clearly. The quote from the email was "FOX has not announced that it will be airing “Epitaph One” and for you to state on the site that it will air (and should be airing this summer) is false."

The "it will air (and should be airing this summer)" part of that quote suggests to me that he got the point of Gossi's May 18th post (the one that said Epitaph One will air and that it should air before it's shown elsewhere because it will just get pirated).

Where he's wrong, of course, is in saying that gossi's claim that it will air is "false" just because they have not announced that it will air.

(I'm still not sure why he treated it as if it had been the last straw in an ongoing discussion when gossi says they have never communicated before, nor why he took such an aggressive tone instead of saying "Hey, gossi, you posted that Epitaph One will air, but we haven't actually announced that. We will be sure to let you know if we announce differently, but the last we said was that it would not air in the U.S. Please come to me with questions whenever you have rumors to post in the future."

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-05-22 19:01 ]
Caroline - if somebody tells me not to publish something, I never do.

Ah, see, I approach this the other way around. Everything I'm told is off the record, until I get a go ahead. Relationships in the entertainment business are unbelievably fragile. I don't want to risk losing what I have.
I am sure the net has made any PR guy's life a living hell but I have to say a PR guy sending an email rant to a fan who runs a public site is very naive to not expect it to go public. It's not the same expectation of privacy {an expectation which is totally only polite manners, any email can be made public} as friend to friend email. I stand by Gossi's right to publish/post. I think the discussion is helpful. In general people are expecting information they send by phone, email, texting and even written word and as far as I know, there is not law {except maybe for written info??} standing that makes any of that illegal?

If Fox studios is looking at this, I mean your PR department and specifically only this one guy in any comments. I'm so happy of your intelligence and support at renewing Dollhouse. That you looked outside the Nelson box is a huge breakthrough and I don't in any way want to discourage your advance thinking.
I get that the email was mistaken about the specific airdate but you can't deny that Dollverse states categorically that FOX will air Epitaph 1 whilst FOX continues to say publicly that they have no plans to do so. If the Dollverse information was directly from FOX it should be made clear as to who said it. If FOX are indeed marketing it here as a DVD extra then proof that they intend to air it could be problematic for them so I also get why they feel moved to try and shut this claim down. So to my mind it's either accept that you don't have info on the airing of Epitaph 1 in the US or state unequivocally why you are so sure it will air.
See, one thing about this DVD marketing angle that's not quite right - the studio is marketing the DVD, the network is marketing the show. Not that they couldn't be working together as sister companies, just wanting to reiterate yet again a point that's often unclear. Fox networks continue to say not only is it not scheduled to air but very directly and without equivocation that they haven't licensed it at this time at all, only paid for the original 13 that they were delivered 1-12, plus unaired original ep1.
You know, zeitgeist, that could actually account for this email. If the Network promised (i.e. contracted with) the Studio that they would not announce showing epitaph One until after the DVD release, this email could be them covering their asses, which might account for the harsh tone since they want to be as direct and unequivocal as possible.
It's possible, but the network is saying that they don't view rights to Epitaph One as part of their deal with 20th Studios and haven't entered into any additional licensing that would allow for them to show it. That would have to happen before airdates could be reasonably discussed. Not that they have to be honest with us about any of it, but.
This is all really a delicate subject. Hey guys, let's talk about how cute Eliza and Nate were at the upfronts :) There, something lighter. Denial ensues. I suck.
The root issue of all of this is that the PR department seems unaware that unless they take a very active role in informing the public of what's going on in the show, rumors and possible misinformation will be spread. From their perspective, I am sure it feels like the fans feel entitled to know every scrap of information...but that's the nature of the beast. With technology and the fast spread of information, a PR department has to keep people informed or they can't complain if possibly misleading information gets passed around.
So is Dollverse effectively calling the studio liars by not retracting the statement that the show will air? I think the network is involved because they're the ones facing all the enquiries as to when it will air and I can see why they'd wish a fansite would not state things as fact that haven't been officially confirmed. I truly think if there had been some qualification of the statement made at Dollverse as to it being a rumour etc the PR people wouldn't be so annoyed by it.
Having said that they aren't, IMHO, demonstrating good public relations in their email to Dollverse.


Maybe they've got Jayne on public relations.
I work in PR for a local city-wide organization and no one in our department would ever send something so bullying to someone supporting our events. There's no tact in that email, no documentation of previous requests from Fox's PR department to Dollverse [which of course makes sense since there was no previous communication between the two] and as others have mentioned, Dollverse isn't the only site posting that E1 will air at some point.

What gets me the most about the email, aside from the condescending, exasperated and threatening tone, is that he tries to blame Dollverse for taking up so much of the PR department's time that could be used to better promote the show. I'm sure. Maybe if the PR department had been proactive in promoting the show rather than reactive to any "inaccurate" coverage from fans, they would have kept themselves out of this mess.

As far as I'm concerned, Fox's PR department had a responsibility to explain what was going on when the schedule was released revealing that Prison Break would receive a two hour series finale on the night we thought E1 was going to air. That was the day before Felicia's tweet about her ep not airing, and if they'd covered their tracks properly, her tweet wouldn't have been turned into the scapegoat that it was.

I understand that Fox is a multi-faceted company with large departments and it's probable that they can't keep up with every little thing but how hard is it to release a show's schedule in a timely manner? Surely that is part of someone's job description, and I would think that includes clearing up any misinterpretations without a demeaning tone.

Edit: removed something potentially libel-esque.

[ edited by CrazyKidBen on 2009-05-22 20:14 ]
I have to numerate my points to make them more valid.

1. Gossi is my best mate. He really does work for a company who makes tuna. He doesn't work in LA, he doesn't know these people he emails beyond the address he emails them at. His flat is not frequented by showbiz and media types unless you count me. He often falls down.

2. As I recently found out in the most soul-crushing way, subjects of and people related to fansites often think they have some sort of ownership over it, despite the fact that they have never assisted you with it in any way whatsoever. They seem to have the impression that fansite authors expend all the effort, time and expense that they do because they secretly dream of being on the inside of the industry, or of marrying their subject in a fairytale ceremony in late October wearing ivory because white washes out my skin tone.....Sorry, drifted off there for a minute, but my point is, Gossi does the site for the FANS, not the actors, or the network, not even for Joss, but for you guys, so that you can get the latest information. Just being Fox's bitch and regurgitating their non-existent Dollhouse news half an hour after they do is not what he's about. He's too rebellious for that. By rebellious I may mean stupidly reckless. I probably don't.

3. You always think you have three points, you think at least you will be able to make it to three. I was sure I .... oh wait, right...PR departments, press releases, all of this jazz, is so far behind the rest of the fandom and the internet that sometimes the only way is to go with your gut instinct on whether your source is telling you something correct. Sometimes you get something wrong, but most of the time it's right and you have to stick with it until you're finally proved right by official sources. The time that exists between is where the fandom magic happens. Forewarned is forearmed. Fan campaigns cannot, I repeat CANNOT be run with only officially sanitised and PRd statements. If they were, there would only be three programmes on television - Idol, the news and Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Oh, wait...

Kirsty
IMHO the root cause of all the Epitaph One confusion is 100% down to Fox PR screwing up the original announcement (or lack of announcement) in the first place.
Whether this was the PR departments fault of the people at the top not giving the PR people the info or go ahead we may never know, but had Fox said months ago that "We only have twelve episodes left to air since we scrapped one, the Studio made another episode for the DVD and overseas" rather than let it leak out and cause a panic then this situation would not exist.

I still think they have deliberately engineered all this to get publicity. I believe that because the alternative is that they are staggeringly incompetent, and I don't think they are that bad.
threats and demeaning tones

Setting aside the latter part, and understanding that the email was a little heavyhanded, there are no threats in Adair's email.
helcat, the Fox PR department is in no way in the right or even close to the right on this. They have consistently bungled everything regarding Dollhouse, and to now claim that they have to clean up a fan's site's reporting is laughable.

doubleshiny said it perfectly, despite the cruel (if accurate) Parthian shot regarding T:SCC. :(

edit: Am I the only one who sees the spelling of Adair and thinks President Adar from BSG?

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-22 19:52 ]
I was being sarcastic above when I said the guy is naive if he thought his email would be private. I didn't actually get the impression that he thought that. Rather, I thought he was trying to intimidate fans who would tread on his turf and the more the better. I don't really have an opinion on what emails website runners should or shouldn't consider private, though corporate communnications seem like weak candidates to me.
SteppeMerc I did not mean to be cruel. After seeing a video of a half naked Thomas Dekker pleading for the show to be renewed my lady parts almost dragged me magnet-like to Fox HQ to hold someone hostage and demand that Dekker takes off his pants. I mean, demand they renew T:SCC
Oh, I know you didn't mean to be cruel, I meant that it more cruel to rub salt on the wound of having such an awesome show canceled, and that I will no longer be able to see Summer kicking ass weekly on TV. I thought of having a winky face after my frowny face, but figured it would be a bit confusing.
I still don't read it as them telling him what to do beyond not announcing airdates without confirmation. The tone should certainly have been more asking than telling and it kind of smells of frustration, which rightly or wrongly, seems to be being taken out on Dollverse. I don't think they were asking that only sanitized news be run, but rather not to make announcements that sound like they are officially sanctioned.
Okay, now I have something important to say. And once I say it, you'll all realize I am so totally right that there will be no need for further discussion, and this thread will end without any further discussion of nazis or Hitler or tuna. Here it is:

(1) Fox is mega-awesome for renewing Dollhouse.

(2) Gossi is hella cool for promoting Dollhouse on his fansite and getting us lots of juicy info.

(3) Can't we all just get along??!

(4) I've got to have more cowbell!
Tingly lady parts. This topic is complete.

I've deliberately not been back and clarified FOXs line on the E1 thing on Dollverse because of the that email. If they had just emailed saying 'Hey, FOX deny that. Please could you update?' - no problem. That's always been the case, because I am not a dick.
Can't believe that guy works in PR. If he still does.
This reminds me of Serenity. Lots of PR and Studio (not Fox) people saying "Hey fans! Help promote this movie! Do all sorts of crazy stuff! Posters! T-Shirts! Go crazy!" and then a few months later it was "OMG! A fan is selling T-Shirts related to Serenity! Cease and desist! Lawyers! Threats!"

As Gossi said above, it's the tone that sucks. A simple "This hasn't been confirmed, I'll let you know the moment we hear, and here's my email. Feel free to ask me about anything else in future" would have been the professional way.
I'm certain it is. Never thought otherwise. Just giving Todd something else to do.
Hmmm. I don't think I'll touch the debate on news about possible future airing of Epitaph 1, because I can't keep the timeline straight and don't know gossi's sources. But I agree with those who point to how utterly incompetent the info flow from Fox/Fox P.R. was at the time of the initial confusion (climaxing with Felicia's tweet) about whether Epitaph 1 was part of the first season. I can totally see how someone like Adair must find it annoying when these fandom brushfires break out and flare so quickly because I suspect he and most in his position still don't see communication with the internet fan community as a normal part of their job...

...BUT you would think he and others like him would have years ago realized that, since this sort of brushfire IS going to break out from time to time (and is particularly likely to break out with any show with any following when the issue is continuation/cancellation of a series, or the airing of late episodes of a series that might be in trouble!) and to have a practial approach to handling it. This doesn't mean he (or even anyone in his office) has to follow Whedonesque (or its equivalent for other shows) in detail. Wouldn't you think, though, that a coupla' times a day, someone in his office would do a google search and a twitter search for breaking gossip on the shows he's responsible for and, IF something was bubbling there, THEN have someone go read a few fansites THAT DAY in some detail to make sure they understood what the fans were so worked up about so he could get the right info out to calm everyone down, after which he could go back to ignoring the fandom until the next clusterf*** (or twitterf***) of rumor broke out? That just seems obvious and prudent in this day and age, for ANY show, not just for us freakishly obsessive Whedon monkeys. Without a proactive plan like this for dealing with us distasteful plebes, he's gonna keep feeling like the fans of various shows were wronging him every time an otherwise simple misstep occurs (a mistep like Fox sending confusing signals on the finale schedule).

ETA: am I wrong to think that, for example, in this day and age most stars (established and rising both) have someone (themself, their publicist, thier mom?) doing daily google searches to see if anything unexpected is brewing on the internets about them that they should know about?

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-22 20:34 ]
zz9 - agreed, the tone is not right. What I'm wary of is that this will become about corporation tries to control fansite vs. bad tone in letter from PR about air dates. That is, in the same way Serenity became "fans get movie made because of DVD sales" when it was really "Mary Parent likes Joss, deal was made before DVD went on sale".
Wow--this thread has been at the top of the Black all day long!

At 8:15 this morning when Mr. Adair read this post, I can picture him saying, "Well its early and it'll be off the front page in no time..."

And on another note, I dont know how well I would be able to handle the Hollywood business life. I mean if someone was online shredding my business acumen for the world to discuss and debate (and not to mention the fact that it's got 130+ posts), I would probably want to address it as quickly as possible; It happened, here's what I will do to correct it "moving forward" and problem solved. Is it still too late to nip it in the bud?

On the other hand, maybe he wants his name enshrined in the Whedonesque vernacular on a permanent basis.
What Fox doesn't realize is that unlike most shows, the fans are it. This isn't a main stream mass appeal Desperate Housewives kind of show. This is a geek show. The Internet is as full of us as the ocean is full of fish. Whedon fans are big on participation. If they facilitated a healthy, connected relationship with us, then Dollhouse might be more likely to spread through the internet. People seem to have no idea what a wonderful tool they have at hand here.
Further, I think I'm going to coin the phrase adair. "Wow, that article was fairly critical of that actor...not quite an adair but harsh."
I still don't read it as them telling him what to do beyond not announcing airdates without confirmation.

Yet. They left so much confusion around the finale that they had to call Joss and specifically tell him that the fact that they weren't airing Epitaph One as the finale didn't mean that the show was cancelled. We've perhaps read too much into airdates, as it turned out, but there was a time, not long ago, when they seemed fraught with significance for the show and thus the fandom. They've created huge blanks in information that people cared deeply about and now it seems to me that they're trying to bully a fan site into not trying to fill in the blanks. It doesn't seem reasonable to me, but that's just me.
The Internet is as full of us as the ocean is full of fish.

Fish also pee in the water they live in. Sometimes, fans do the same in the Internet. Adair overstepped in tone, but we also don't know what might have sparked that dramatic of a move, because we're only getting one side of this (which partly is a result of PR overstepping and then the realities of their job requiring them to just stay out of the fray). But overstepping in response to being overstepped on is just as needless. Countering unprofessional behavior with more unprofessional behavior just seems counter-productive for all concerned.

And, again, there are no threats, and no "bullying" in PR's email. I get that people are hot udner the collar, but the constant misrepresentation isn't helping the cause.

(And I say all of that having once been on the sharp end of an outright attempt at character assassination by a PR guy. So I'm well aware of the degree to which certain PR people can go off the reservation. But that also means I'm well aware that no matter how sharp the tone of this particular email, it neither threatens nor bullies anyone.)
The fact that they've handled info releases poorly doesn't mean that they are telling gossi how many beers to drink tonight. Despite the fact that the tone of the letter was un-good, all they have asked is that said fansite not announce things in ways that seemed official as it sets up fans for disappointment and Fox for getting slinged and arrowed to death.
I think the PR guy's email has a real point in there. He just chose to communicate it extremely poorly. Were there no owls available at FOX HQ for an actual Howler?
I get that they don't want fan sites spreading rumours. But' like it or not, fans have the right to speculate and even to say "I have heard this..." or "I believe this...".

PR, of all people, should know that in a situation like this if they create a vacuum then something will fill it up. Unless they provide the facts, or even just vague reassurances, then rumours and speculation will spread.
zz9 - The issue doesn't seem to be "fansites say things" but more that "fansite talks about air dates for Epitaph One claiming Fox sources when Fox PR keeps telling everyone it hasn't been licensed, much less scheduled". It came off as more official-y than gossi intended as he mentioned upthread.
Then say "I have heard this..." or "I believe this...", but this item was stated as fact. I don't think anyone is trying to say that FOX PR didn't handle the initial Epitaph One information poorly but since they cleared up that they wouldn't be airing it, they've no reason to say anything else because their position hasn't officially changed.
I think PR might also have become confused (and this in turn might account for the overstep in tone) by the fact that sometimes Dollverse plays like a fansite, and sometimes it plays like a scoop site.

PR's email reads a bit like they had become frustrated in their thinking that the site wanted to promote the show but sometimes got caught up in trying to break news that might or might not actually have been in the best interests of promoting the show (depending on one's perspective on promotion, which is a whole other debate). Responsibility for that confusion, if the case, rests a little bit with both sides.
Ordering someone who does not work for you or have any legal obligation to you to do anything implies that you have other means of coercion at your disposal, other than firing or suing them, whether or not the implied threat is empty. I'll stand by "bullying." Fans are not obligated to assume, even now with the renewal, that Fox knows what is in the best interests of the show or of promoting the show, in any sense of "best", "interest", or "show."
Such a strange tone he adopts with no history. Maybe his boss hinted that Dollverse does a better job promoting the show than he does. Actually, I'm stating that as a fact. That's what happened.
No history on this subject maybe, but not no history at all. Todd Adair is the head of PR and gossi runs a big Dollhouse fan site. Getting screener copies and other things means going through Todd Adair's office. doublemeat - stating things as fact is why we have this kerfuffle going on.
It came off as more official-y than gossi intended as he mentioned upthread.

I think this is down to a blurring of the line between "Official" media like newspapers and unofficial sites where fansites, blogs, posting boards and gossip sites tend to blur together.

If a print newspaper says "Fox will air this episode" I assume they have proof, strong evidence supporting that claim to justify them putting their name to that article.
With online sites, even one run by someone like Gossi, I tend to assume it's speculation, opinion, unless they provide a link supporting it

I'm not saying that as a criticism, just as a general recognition of the standards of online behaviour.

Since Gossi didn't say "Joe Exec at Fox has confirmed that blah blah" then I would take his comment as his opinion, based on whatever he feels is enough to justify that opinion.
I'm sure I have said things on this site like "Joss won't do that" which are nothing more than my opinion. He hasn't sued me. Yet....
I took gossi's comment as inside information that Epitaph One will air. That was certainly implied.

[ edited by doublemeat on 2009-05-22 21:49 ]
So would you have assumed zz9 that the news included in the same piece about Australia air dates was just opinion as no link was provided? It was presented as a news item on the site, and I'm not surprised that many people have assumed that was what it was.
The Internet is as full of us as the ocean is full of fish.

Fish also pee in the water they live in. Sometimes, fans do the same in the Internet.
The One True b!X

I really hope you didn't think I was suggesting any kind of flippant fan response. I was merely stating that good relations between us are in everyone's best interest. If they encourage good relations with us, and we get the information, the pictures, the videos we want to see, then we in turn distribute them out into the depths of the internet, which is not something most companies know how to do on their own. Word of mouth requires mouths.

I understand that there are two sides to this. I'm a communications major, if I didn't understand Fox's side of things I should go into another line of work.

I'm not suggesting any negative response, we aren't 4chan. Even if we were, they have our show, and we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot not to continue doing a massive amount of internet communications. I'm merely stating that a good PR relationship with us is the best advertising they can get, and they really haven't been doing enough in that category.

As for the Dollverse question, it's very unorthodox for a company to try to control a fan site, but not so unorthodox as to be unbelievable or even all that shady. That's just business. Bad business, but business none the less. A better response would have been a short note dispelling the rumor or correcting the information.
Nor did I suggest that fans are "obligated to assume ... that Fox knows what is in the best interests of the show or of promoting the show". But while "do not make any further announcements" is obviously not phrased as a plea, neither could it possibly be construed as any kind of "order" precisely because the site does not work for FOX PR.

There's a lot of bullying, both physical and mental, in the world. Does a disservice to call artless phrasing in a PR email "bullying". And believe me, when a PR person wants to bully someone, this is not how they do it.
I edited a college newspaper for a few semesters, let me tell you, if I didn't see a source, I didn't post it. Without a source, or with an anonymous source, you have no article. The information, outside of the Deep Throats of history, needs to have somebody who will stand behind it. That's not to say that a fan site should never use it, but readers should learn to take anything that doesn't have a source disclosed with a grain of salt.
And xMadxScientistx, no. I was actually trying clumsily to suggest that said reaction had already happened, and that responding to artlessly overstepping email with this sort of overreaction in fact only perpetuates or spreads any bad relations that might stem from this.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-22 21:58 ]
[W]hile "do not make any further announcements" is obviously not phrased as a plea, neither could it possibly be construed as any kind of "order" precisely because the site does not work for FOX PR.


That quote is incontrovertibly phrased in the imperative - that its recipient is not obligated to obey does not make the attempt any less real, merely less effective. If I'm parsing this correctly and the crux of your argument, b!X, is that FOX is not exerting control because it doesn't have the authority to do so, then you are in substantial agreement with the majority of the rest of us, in that FOX doesn't (we go so far as to say shouldn't) have control over fan-sites.

Sorry if I seem condescending; I'm only trying to emphasize that we don't seem to have any substantial differences of opinion here.
Except in the sense that I don't characterize the imperative phrasing as "bullying" or some kind of "threat", which is where (on this particular element) I'm not in agreement with several other posters.
I understand that a lot of fansites operate under the radar and post whatever the heck they want but Dollverse should clearly label unverified information as just that... even if something is told to them off the record by an employee of FOX, it should not be posted as such unless it is officially confirmed via press release, schedule, etc...

Furthermore, while Dollverse can post whatever they wish, FOX does have a right to say whether they may use Dollhouse promotional materials in connection with such postings. It seems they posted broadcast dates for an episode that FOX never once claimed was going to air.
It seems they posted broadcast dates for an episode that FOX never once claimed was going to air.

Nope, not as far as I can tell, anyway. Dollverse just said that Epitaph One would air, and that if FOX is smart, they should air it before it's broadcast overseas, to keep piracy low.
I recall Dollverse talking about episode 13 being aired, then pre-empted by Prison Break Season finale, dates such as May 15th and 22nd being thrown around earlier...
That's true, but his sources on that were FOX PR itself. They said, "All episodes will be aired," which was taken to mean, "All episode will be aired." Nobody knew about the whole Epitaph One-has-not-been-bought-and-doesn't-count thing at that point, so it's hardly fair to say that was the wrong thing to do on Dollverse's part.
Jobo, two different posts are being referenced at various points in this thread. There's the one you reference there, and then this one about "all 13 episodes will air" which includes a date for 1x13. The more recent one is the one you're thinking of. The other one specifically had dates (about which there is a dispute as to who said what when, or didnt say what when).

ETA that I was writing this while other people were posting on the issue in the meantime, heh.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-22 23:34 ]
Folden, that is not what is being discussed, the matter at hand is that Dollverse said (after Dollhouse was renewed) that Epitaph 1 would be aired. It never said when, but said that they should do so before it airs overseas.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-22 23:34 ]
That is not what is being discussed...

Except it is, because it seems fairly evident that the earlier posts which talked about specific dates for 1x13 are part of the context in which FOX PR was responding.
Fox PR was responding to the earlier posts, but they never had before. And, at the time they could not have because it was perfectly reasonable for gossi (and everyone else) to assume that the 13th episode would air after the 12th. It's only in hindsight (AFTER the ridiculous not-showing-of-the-13th-episode PR debacle) that it was at all clear that the earlier airdates were at all wrong.

The more recent post, saying that Epitaph One will air but providing no date, is the proximate cause of Fox PR's response and the subject of their email, even if they refer (in a kind of ridiculous bluster) to the earlier posts in the email too.
It *is* part of what is being discussed. Also, it might be reasonable to *assume* that all episodes originally included Epitaph One BUT that does not mean you can just pull broadcast dates out of thin air and then proclaim those imaginary schedules have later been pre-empted for even later dates that still were also never mentioned by FOX. ROFL

That's a bunch of made up news being reported based on, well, nothing factual at all.

[ edited by John T. Folden on 2009-05-22 23:58 ]
I won't deny that technically it was an assumption to say that Epitaph One would air the 15th, but it was an assumption every single person made, without question. Because that's how broadcast TV works. During the TV season, unless other factors interfere (such as a two-hour finale, or a winter break), every week will bring a new episode. At the time of posting, no other factors were known, so it wasn't unreasonable to post it. I haven't seen anywhere that gossi claimed it would instead be aired the following week--I'll gladly concede defeat if that turns out to be the case.
Omg someone is calling my office about Dollhouse! Grrrr, not like I get PAID to deal with such matters. Better find loyal fans who do my job better than I do usually and vent my frustration with a rude email. Gossi, you are now served.

Nap time!

[ edited by silent knight on 2009-05-23 00:00 ]
Well, it really wasn't much of an assumption at the time. There were thirteen episodes. They said they would show all of them. We had no way of knowing about the weirdness of the behind-the-scenes stuff with the thirteenth episode. It was hardly a crazy leap to say that they were going to show it at the time.

The point is, when it was an unusual situation like that, it was FOX's responsibility to make clear ahead of time what was going on instead of allowing people all over the place to get confused and angry (including actors in the show, for crying out loud), think the show was canceled and everything.
FOX makes their program schedules available WELL in advance. Anyone remotely in contact with their press department should know where to see these schedules. You don't even need an account to see them, IIRC, so there's no need to report assumption as fact. It would be one thing if the date came and the episode just went missing but FOX's schedule plainly stated what was the season finale for them.

So, I agree that's it's perfectly reasonable to assume something like that, reporting later that something had been preempted when it hadn't even truly ever been scheduled is questionable and part of the issue, I believe.
I don't disagree that the 1x13 mess was caused in part by FOX's unwillingness (whatever the reason for it) to make a clear statement earlier on. But the 1x13 situation was never as unambiguous (or, apparently unambiguous at the time) as some people here are retconning it to be. Lack of network clarity contributed. But so did fansite assumptions.
By now, nobody would say it was preempted, no. But at the time, given that we didn't know about the buying-the-episode SNAFU, pre-empted seemed like the right word, since what we expected to air was being replaced with something else. And since FOX had said they would air all the episodes--and since the schedule was not yet released when gossi posted that--I don't think there was anything in wrong in putting Epitaph One on the 15th, nor saying it was being preempted by PB (again, all before anybody actually knew what the deal was). Preempted was the right term for what we knew about the situation.

ETR to b!x, since he was rude enough not to wait for me to finish posting before saying something. I agree that fan assumptions contributed to the problem, I just don't think the fan assumptions were unreasonable ones.

[ edited by Jobo on 2009-05-23 00:18 ]
Doubling back, I don't mean to suggest that there was never any reason to consider the season to be thirteen episodes. I had a whole thing on PIE SPOILERS!!! in December about the season order where FOX PR indeed kept referring to the season as being "13 episodes". All I mean to say is that once the number 13 got locked into people's heads, it looks a lot (to me) like no one really re-asked the questions, and for the months of Dollhouse being on the air just kept making assumptions. In the real world, facts on the ground change constantly, and in this case both FOX PR and the fansite side of things seem to have neglected to keep up.

ETA the Google cache link to the PIE SPOILERS!!! item in question.

In the end, what I suspect occurred is that while FOX PR understood the network originally to have ordered 13 episodes and so was still talking that way in December, at the same time (and in the ensuing months), in other halls facts on the ground were changing (and perhaps, at times, in ways that even FOX PR was not being notified about). In the long shuffle of pilot and then pilot as second episode and then no pilot at all (et cetera), the "all episodes means 13 episodes" assumption never got properly swept away by anyone, leading in the end to fansites mistakenly taking "all episodes to air" to mean it made sense to draft a schedule that no one at FOX ever actually announced.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-23 00:32 ]
I kinda agree with the comparison made in the Dollverse comments:

If I tell my friend to stop chewing his gum so loudly, the correct interpretation is "I'd appreciate if you stop chewing your gum so loudly," not "I order you to stop chewing your gum so loudly." Why? Because it's implicit that I have no authority to tell my friend what to do.


For me it is also implicit and default that Fox has no authority over a fansite. So, while their tone was a bit out of line, I didn't interpret it as Fox telling the fansite what to do.

I also agree that Dollverse has kind of a mixed status, a cross between a fansite and a scoop site. Marking opinions and rumors clearly as such should be part of that game, and I will indeed be much more disappointed, if Fox don't air E1, because of the Dollverse report on May 18th than I would've been, if there was just a "rumor has it" going around.

Claiming that Fox should have handled the E1-deal better are all nice, but essentially it is equal to claiming to know better than Fox about how they should conduct their business (how ironic). I think they had a right not to announce that deal, since it is their business decision. Fansites speculating about airdates should declare that as speculation, and I also get why a network might be pissed off by word like "pre-empted": It's bad PR. I get that point, although it was phrased weirdly.

I don't think it makes any sense to argue now, what coulda/shoulda/woulda been done differently back then. It happened the way it happened, and everyone had their reasons. However, the now is something that worries me.

Because in the end, this will probably be treated as a PR disaster for the show. Both sides will get torn up in the media, I guess, which will bring the buzz around to "Wait, but for whom did they renew the show? A 1.0 demo rating, and not even these get along with them?"

I know there are egos to be hurt. But I think the show and the buzz would have benefited more from a slightly more cooperative approach.
I think it's also important to point out, and the point that FOX is making here;

The general public is probably more aware of a lack of episode 13 because of sites like Dollverse making up schedules and preemption's than it ever was by anything FOX itself said. This is akin to that one DH forum starting a "Save Dollhouse" campaign before the thing had even begun to air. In both cases, fan activity made the show look more in danger than it may have been perceived otherwise.

I originally thought there were 13 episodes, then I read the pilot was being used as episode 2 and then finally that it was being dropped altogether. It is only because of sites like Dollverse that I continued to focus on "13 episodes" and the impression that the finale was being preempted, aired at a later date, and then finally not being aired at all. SO all these assumptions and misreported issues lead me to believe that FOX disliked the show and it's prospects more than what is probably true because it lead me to believe they decided to NOT air an episode that, in reality, they never owned to begin with...
This whole thing is just weird.

As I read and re-read Adair's letter, I was struck by how poorly worded and written it is. I'm reminded of a new office assistant at work who recently "yelled" at a client via e-mail. She's 19 and didn't know better. Perhaps Adair is very young, new, and inexperienced? Perhaps Adair just had his assistant craft the e-mail?

Whatever. The man's job is public relations, apparently of the Jayne variety. Or he's just young. Something like that.

gossi, dude, you rock. I love that you posted his e-mail. It smacks of delicious irony, and who loves delicious irony more than Whedon fans?

Does Fox get that Whedon fans are typically unimpressed and even insulted by what Fox considers PR? Kudos to those at Fox who credit Joss with a great project, but...

Hmm. Considering the difference between "promotions" and "public relations" now.
oh wowzers!

...And I still think that Epitaph 1 was presumed to air by the creators per Joss statement at the Apple Store about Felicia Day being on the show. If he thought she wouldn't be seen on our TVs (other than a straight up cancellation) then I'm not sure he wouldn've even said that.

But that's neither here nor there anymore. I guess my point is, I of course agree that Fox has never really handled the PR right. In saying that, I was one of the people who reported Gossi's quote about E1 airing after all (much to the dismay of all of Buffyfest when I had to retract it) but this is how DH stuff has been from the start. Whaddyagonnado?

[ edited by buffyfest on 2009-05-23 01:05 ]
For me, the really funny part of this (which perfectly underscores the problem) is that Fox still hasn't bothered to clarify the situation. I mean, there are three possibilities: 1) it won't air in the US, 2) it will air in the US, but maybe they don't yet know when, or 3) they haven't yet decided whether to air it.

Maybe #3 is implied, but if you're going to write nasty emails to fan sites about supposedly wrong information, it would be nice to provide the correct information too.
Except, nasarius, they have clarified. They told Maureen Ryan that there are "no plans" to air that unseen episode "at this time" and told blastmagazine.com that "at this point, Fox does not have any plans to broadcast Epitaph One". It's just that a couple of people claim to have sources telling them otherwise. Sources that they won't even characterize (which isn't the same as "name").

To claim that at this point FOX hasn't clarified is incorrect. It's just that some people aren't satisfied with the clarification.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-23 01:14 ]
Um, Fox has been the absolute suck when it comes to PR for this show, so I find it a bit hilarious that they think the fault lies with Dollverse.
Two things: Pre-empted is the wrong word solely because while a lot of us assumed that E1 would air, it was never scheduled to air. Nothing can pre-empt you unless you are supposed to be their to begin with. Fox doesn't feel the need to clarify it because they've made the same statement to fans and critics alike for weeks now - "We have not even licensed the episode and thus have no plans to air it at this time." Todd Adair reiterated this to me today, its just that people refuse to believe it. The correct information, as the letter said is "no license, no plan to air, if that changes we will tell you". They haven't changed their message.

As an aside PR does not equal marketing and advertising. It's strictly promotions, so enough with the "he's busy deciding to show half naked Eliza". That's not the PR office's job.
Ahh, zeitgeist, a true voice of reason. :-)
Hmmm....It seems to me that, most likely, Dollverse is just making stuff up to incite controversy in a misguided attempt to convince FOX to air "Epitaph One."
Thanks, zeitgeist. I was trying to figure out if I should be annoyed by anything more than Adair's language use at the moment.

Adair and PR are separate from half-naked Eliza glittery bits on DH Fox network promos. Got it.
As an aside PR does not equal marketing and advertising. It's strictly promotions

His title is Publicity though, not PR. Technically different, I'd say. Isn't his main job to get free media attention? He should be loving on people like Gossi. So weird.

Edited to clarify

[ edited by Succatash on 2009-05-23 02:16 ]
Just to add my two cents (because, y'know, everyone was waiting to hear what I thought and the internet is all about my opinions ;)):

- I think the FOX e-mail was worded all wrong and I can understand being baffled and maybe a bit angry when receiving it;

- I think assuming this e-mail wouldn't surface online, when e-mailing a fanrun site which is wellread inside and outside of the fandom, is at the very least taking a big PR-risk;

- I, however, do think the point in the e-mail, apart from the language, is very reasonable. Not wanting (possibly incorrect) information appear as though it's Fox confirmed is very reasonable. Also note that he's only talking about the airdates in the e-mail, nothing else.

- I wouldn't have responded to this like Dollverse did. I would not have posted this e-mail. I'd have replied like gossi did, and if they proceeded to ignore me, I'd just "ignore them back" on this issue and keep asking them for updates and clarifications on news/rumors I'd like to post. I'd also take better care of making sure I mark rumors as such: unconfirmed by FOX. Not because they asked, but because I wouldn't want my readers to think my article implied something was officially confirmed when in fact it wasn't.

- It seems to me that this whole controversy is quite unnecessary. There's nothing to be gained by airing it. There's no upside to publishing the linked article for either the fandom or the show, as far as I can see. There's no real reason for making it public knowledge.

- What's more: posting the e-mail seems like an "unfair fight". It's pretty obvious what the response will be: an outcry of support for "our" fansite and our community regular. I get the same feeling reading the article as I do when American artists I like would shout out that "they disliked Bush too" in European venues. It seems like preaching to the choir, and an easy score. Not saying that this is what gossi intended, just what it reads like to me.

- And finally, lest there be any doubt: I'm pretty grateful to gossi for giving us a few of the scoops the fandom's looking for, and using his personal time to keep us informed on all things Dollhouse, on a strictly voluntary basis. A fandom insider going out of his way to get us actual information is very welcome and I would assume appreciated by almost everyone in this fandom.
To Folden, and a few others, some things to keep in mind in your considerations:

...there are two distinctly different historical moments coming up in discussion here: What the fandom (and, apparantly, the creators and actors involved with the show) knew about the number of episodes Fox NETWORK considered to make up season one UP UNTIL THE CHAOS OF APRIL 8TH and 9th and what these same people knew in mid May when the question arose anew of what might happen to E1 once the renewal news came through. Whatever judgements might be made of how Dollverse could have or should have worded or sourced their May 18th postings, be careful not to assume that the same judgements or assumptions can as easily apply to anything posted prior to or during the April 8th-9th kerfuffle. It is very clear from Kevin Reilly's oft-quoted comment about airing all "thirteen" eps, as well as from the kerfuffle itself that prior to April 8th-9th, no one in the fan community had any reason to think that the number of episodes to be aired was not 13 and that the "thirteenth" one was Epitaph 1. If you were not actively following this site prior to the 9th, you would do well to look at the following threads (and the articles they are attached to) from the 8th and 9th: http://whedonesque.com/comments/19801, http://whedonesque.com/comments/19815, and
http://whedonesque.com/comments/19822. There, you can see, in real time, the community finding out that there was a question about this numbering. In these threads, you can find Felicia Day's "twitter heard round the world," Tim Minear's much appreciated clarification of the situation, and, by scanning the threads, the real time dispersion to the community of what we now know about the licensing deals for 12 episodes, the planned scheduling of the episodes, and the fact that "Omega," not "Epitaph 1" was to be the season finale. Folden, to see how the community did in fact find and attempt to make sense of everything you refer to in your earlier post ("their press department should know where to see these schedules. You don't even need an account to see them, IIRC, so there's no need to report assumption as fact. It would be one thing if the date came and the episode just went missing but FOX's schedule plainly stated what was the season finale for them"), review those threads. Invisible Green, I suggest you look at just about any random scattering of gossi's posts on numerous episode ratings and similar threads to find that gossi has consistently been not only reliable for his ability to frequently get someone at Fox to answer confusions when they come up but also extremely vocal about defending Fox from certain persistant, um, "misperceptions" we have clung to -- such as forcing us to remember that it was not Fox, but Joss who created the idea of starting a show with five "pilots", or that the Fox execs of the "Firefly" era were NOT the execs of the Dollhouse era. Heck, Kevin Reilly could hardly hope for a more scrupulous defender (when appropriate) than he had in gossi. Your version of gossi's motivations seems (how to say this politely?) extremely, massively poorly informed by existing evidence of his past behavior on things like this.

In short, whatever we now know to be the truth about the number of episodes to expect to air as part of season one now, in the wake of the twitter heard round the world or the renewal news, and whatever this may say about our hopes for Epitaph 1's airing now or about Dollverse's treatment of whatever sources went into the mid-May postings there, it is simply wrong (what did you say?) WRONG (I'm sorry, I missed that..) WRRRRROOOONNNNNGGGG! to assume that this information was known or could reasonably be expected to be known by anyone in the fandom prior to April 9th. Fox (the network) or Fox (the studio) may have known months before that, but there is no evidence whatsoever that they made any attempt to inform the fans prior to April 8th of the backstory behind the "misperception" -- based on their own quotes and on widely dispersed info -- that the known existence of 13 completed episodes other than the scrapped original pilot meant all 13 would air as "season one."

ETA clarifying phrase "prior to April 8th" to end of last paragraph.
ETA (2) This post addresses the confusion in this thread about what Dollverse or others knew when. I did not write this post to imply that the Adair email confuses the two time periods, which would be a separate issue.
[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-23 03:08 ]

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-23 03:25 ]
Thank you doubtful guest for posting all that info, I knew and wanted to convey the same information, but simply did not have the willpower to do so, and would not have organized it nearly as well.
I wonder if this is gonna be a thing next year, if FOX does order/has ordered Epitaph One. Will people be arguing if that counts as part of season two's 13-episode order?
Right, and what they are taking issue with is reports on Dollverse SINCE the WRONNNNNNNNNNNG CHAOS OMG WTF BBQ PUPPIES of April 8, 9 such as the post on the 18th of May, which I think even all of us in this thread can admit is after April, assuming they occur in the same calendar year. So while we can spend all night arguing over who knew what before we knew anything, it seems kinda silly, especially given that's not why Fox wrote their poorly toned letter about.

Jobo- people have already started arguing over whether an airing of Epitaph One would be considered part of next season's 13 ep order.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-23 03:13 ]
Having thought more about this I have to say that I wish gossi hadn't published this email. The original email - tactless and rude as it was - was an overreaction but I think publishing the email and writing a long essay about it (including criticisms of FOX PR) was equally an overreaction and one that potentially damages some of the good will FOX people might feel towards Dollhouse and its fanbase. The email didn't ask Dollverse to stop running Dollhouse stories - it just asked it to stop making 'announcements' about scheduling decisions. As someone above said, I think this issue would never have arisen if Dollverse's statement that Epitaph One would air (the later statement, that is) had been framed as a rumour rather than as fact. I don't think their request is actually unreasonable and I have to say that I think gossi's long response to it mischaracterises what it's actually asking. That said, the email was flat out rude and a savvy PR person should have known that it was begging to be characterised as a threat or an attempt to restrict what people say. If I had been in the shoes of those who run Dollverse I would have written a Dollverse story ensuring that my readers knew that the airing of E1 was so far just a rumour and then responded to Todd (a) assuring him that I wouldn't publish rumour as fact in the future and (b) telling him off for his terrible approach to the situation and for being such a rude pr*ck
I agree with Let Down. I think Dollverse should take down the news item, and if they do, Whedonesque should take down this thread. It was much ado about nothing.
If overseas sales require 13 episodes, then we have to assume they have to be 13 NEW episodes (ie E1 cannot be part of the sale of Season 1 and also of Season 2). But judging from the clear information we've gotten from Fox (both the studio and the network), I'm guessing we'll learn how that dilemma is resolved when the sale of the second season comes to the UK.
Why should Dollverse or Whedonesque take down the topic? I think we have every right to know how little the PR department (or at least Adair) thinks of fans, especially ones as hard working as gossi.
My mother always told me that if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all- FOX PR must not have heard that from THEIR mommas.

Firstly- that email was abrupt and rude. All that needed to be said was "Please don't publish airdates until you hear them from us. Kay Thx Bye." The PR Dept RANT, as shown, was unprofessional and inappropriate. So I'm glad we got to see it.

Still, I'm not sure if Gossi was right in wasting his time responding, nor do I think Fox is actually targeting his editorial content. Just trying to shift the blame to someone else for their own lack of communication over 'Epitaph One'.

I mean, I'd have just sent them back a snarky email asking they'd please spend their time promoting the SHOW instead of trying to alienate the fans. Dollverse (and Gossi) have done absolute wonders in mobilizing the fandom, and I fear that the PR Dept may have just cut off their nose to spite their face.

I only hope this whole kerfuffle comes to the attention of the PTB and that someone gets threatened with the attic if they pull this stunt again!
From a professional perspective, not to mention wanting to have smooth relations between network and fandom (both of which are positions I'm guessing b!X is coming from with his comments), I agree that there shouldn't have been a big deal made about this. But maybe gossi felt slighted, maybe wanted some back-up from his site's supporters, and maybe his thought process went something like my initial reaction...

...the anarchist in me loves this sorta thing. It's childish, it's not necessary, but come on. Like others have pointed out, how awesome is it to witness the outing of a PR guy's fairly substantial screw-up in business/customer relations ? If nothing else, this'll get some attention and maybe prompt this Adair dude and other PR folks in the biz to watch how they interact with fandoms.

Yes, I know, it's not constructive, the intelligent half of my brain agrees that it would have been better if nothing at all had been revealed to the internet public. Id vs. logic, I think the Id wins out in this case though. We love Fox this year (Kevin Reilly, etc), so it's not specific ire directed at them (maybe from some fans' perspectives, but not mine), but it's refreshing to see big studio execs taken down a few pegs (like Tom Cruise's overhyped-but-still-funny, balding, overweight, horrible personality spoof of an exec in Tropic Thunder. This shit is funny).
If nothing else, this'll get some attention and maybe prompt this Adair dude and other PR folks in the biz to watch how they interact with fandoms.

I'd be careful about wishing for that, because the likely effect in that regard is for them to get more stand-offish and reluctant to engage with fandom. (Although, in truth, I don't really expect it to do that. But it's not going to improve anything, either.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-23 06:25 ]
You're probably right, we don't have that much influence.

Although if less engagement with fandom might equal less spoilers getting out there (though I realize PR guys probably aren't the main source of 'em), maybe that's a plus ? Depends on what all the downsides would be.
If the Daily Show covered this (which, obviously, they wouldn't), I just imagine John Stewart with a picture of me and FOX guy in the background, saying "FAY-ELLLLL" into the camera.

I'm not deleting the thing. Nobody at FOX has apologised. As far as I'm concerned if I'm going to spend a good 18 months giving you free publicity for your TV show and that's the official network line randomly out of the blue one day, I think it shows an appauling lack of judgement by the corporation.
It seems to me that to whatever extent it is argued that this e-mail was inoffensive (an order without authority is effectively a request, etc.) it should be a non-issue for us all that gossi decided to publish it - only in the context of the PR department's desultory behavior in general and this e-mail's heavy-handed manner in particular does the act of doing so become controversial, and simultaneously an exposé of said behavior.
(up late working on a project, so I post again, against all time zone rationality)...

...I vote it is significant to see, occasionally, how the publicity machine is working behind the curtain -- not just for our fandom, but for the industry-wide evolution of how (and how not to) interact with internet outlets (fandoms, etc), which are here to stay, and seem to exist for even shows I would think noone much cared about. And it doesn't hurt that Joss himself seems to have been ahead of the curve on thinking about what it means to have a significant fandom, despite the fact that he doesn't seem particularly interested in being ahead of the technology curve in his personal life (i.e., he ain't like Felicia in early-adopting twitter into his life, etc.).

...In case it wasn't clear in my previous post, I wanna offer a tribute to gossi: I don't know the guy, don't have any history with the guy. Heck, for some reason I thought he was a woman for a month or two (maybe I knew too many krissi's, lori's, etc to realize gossi wasn't a feminine diminutive -- what the hell does it mean?). Heck, again, from the early episode discussions, I don't think he and I were particularly on the same page in our opinions of "Dollhouse." Despite that, I have been very aware of how levelheaded and rational he tends to be, especially in issues relating to "the biz" aspect of things, and how much effort he puts into digging up info on the show and (as I previously mentioned) defending Fox when we, the fandom, are not accurate in our facts about certain things about Fox's actions. He is far more cool-headed than I am, from what I've seen. That is why, without offering any opinion on what he did or might have done when confronted with this email, my strong strong strong impulse is to back his play on this. I'm not saying you can't critique him. There are people offering well-considered critiques of what gossi might have done (b!X comes to mind), but critiques that seem unaware of the history not just of the issue here, but of gossi's character as revealed through his posts here in the past are worth nothing at all to me.
I don't think the Fox PR guy is in the right, but I also don't think we should be getting on their bad side. Not really sure making such a big deal out of this is worth it. I'd much rather see Dollhouse succeed than worry over this stuff, no offense.
I'm working on PR for a TV show right now, I will still state this is not the tone you should take with anyone with a blog.
doubtful guest, feel not at all bad, I thought that gossi worked for Fox and lived in America (cause I'm a moron... I listened to his and doubleshiny's radio thing about Dollhouse before it aired, and still I couldn't put it together).

And Shanshu, I believe that Dollverse is a large reason why Dollhouse succeeded (if you want to put it that way), at least amongst the internet fans (us), not the Fox publicity folks. I for one support gossi's actions 100% so far, and really don't see any better way of going about it. I'm not for flaming Fox (they still deserve props for renewing Dollhouse after all), but Dollverse has been consistently trying to make sense of the cluster frak that has been the official news regarding Dollhouse, especially in regards to Epitaph 1. If the PR department was so worried about clearing everything up, they'd make concrete announcements on time, and work with, not against the fans, especially Dollverse.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-23 07:08 ]
SteppeMerc, I think Dollverse is a great site, and I think they did an outstanding job of spreading the word/keeping morale up about the show. My comment wasn't meant to downplay them in any way. And of course I agree with them and Gossi on the fact that this email was out of line. I just hope that this doesn't come back to bite us all.

Certainly Fox has not done a great job on the whole PR front. The fact that we found out about the 13th episode not airing from Felicia Day's tweet is just one example. Also, the Friday night scheduling - how we found out about that.

I guess I am still in disbelief over the fact that we've gotten another season, and am very paranoid that it will be taken away. Also, a bit drunk right now, so that doesn't help ;)
FOX's publicity department has no say over pickups for series, nor would this spat effect it.

The fact Dollhouse has pulled such impressive Hulu numbers (which apparently it has) and garnered a lot of DVD pre-orders is down to fansites like Dollverse. That's down to the loyal core audience, and FOX absolutely knows that. It's not magic people buying those things: it's the fan base. All of that had a direct business impact on renewing the show.
FOX's publicity department has no say over pickups for series, nor would this spat effect it.

*does best Jayne impression*

Well now I know that.

;)
[Posted late at night, and later regretted not well-thought-through thoughts. Sorry. I did include a plug for reading Russell T. Davies & Benjamin Cook's The Writers Tale for those interested in the relationship between fans; media and a show, which I stand by.]

[ edited by sojourner on 2009-05-24 06:35 ]
And the first reactions are coming in: Nick C.

And looking at the May 18th-impact I found io9:

There is one patch of good news, however: fansite Dollverse says that Fox will air the fabled thirteenth episode of the show's first season sometime this summer. The network realized that the post-apocalyptic episode "Epitaph One" was going to start airing in other countries (including the U.K. and Sweden), so it would quickly wind up being pirated. So we may actually get to see it before it appears on the DVD box set at the end of July.


I think this is what Fox were fearing/reading: People taking Dollverse at insider-value and their opinions as facts.
Just stopping by to thank Gossi for Dollverse. And Doubtful Guest for his/her participation in this thread.
So, reading the comments section over at NickC's article, Dollverse has pissed some people at FOX off, according to his sources. I wonder what impact this may turn out having (I'm hoping: nothing). I still stand by what I posted upthread and think that posting the e-mail was a mistake (which, again, has no impact in my appreciation for Dollverse or the time gossi puts into this thing).
The PR email was a mistake on FOX's part.

I work in the research department of a major American network and frequently had to deal with calls from people within the company who want to verify data or information published on blogs. Information (both correct and not) get out and there's nothing you can do about it. To try to police it is ridiculous and fruitless.

However, Todd Adair was probably smart to send a stupid email before a long holiday weekend - PR knows that that's the best time to bury a story. I'd bet that his boss isn't too happy with him about this email getting out though!
I thought that gossi worked for Fox and lived in America


This is exactly why Fox were trying to get him to be very careful about what he said and how he said it. Those who disagree with how Dollverse handled this aren't hating on gossi and they agree that Fox's letter was over the top. They just don't think that the best way to respond was to respond in kind, so to frame the argument as "well, you should support your friend and community member" misses the point entirely. They are simply suggesting, as our mate gossi cops to early in the thread that he made a mistake in not being clear in his E1 airdate posting recently. Defending him about things he freely admits as "mea culpa" is simply divisive and pointless.

No one is really saying anything new in this thread at this point and it's partly because we mostly agree - a lot of the arguments from either side at this point are against arguments that the other side isn't making, a sure sign it's about time to call thread death. Dr. Kev, Dr. Kirsty, if you would be so kind?
Not at all pleased with the way NickC is throwing us all onto a big heap.

(sorry Zeitgeist, hadn't read your post'

[ edited by Caroline on 2009-05-23 15:57 ]
No worry, it looks like b!X is over there telling him to pay more attention. In any case, we have his email address now ;).
Didn't Nick C say publicly that ep 13 was airing in the summer, which is what FOX PR are annoyed about, but I didn't actually say...? Irony!

Nick C also says I am "lying" and that I said episode 13 was "pre-empted". Both wrong.
Well the part that bothers me about Nick C's statement is how Fox NEVER planned to show the 13th episode, when we all know that Kevin Reilly very specifically committed to showing 'all 13 episodes'. Nick C. appears to me to be falling over himself to back up the corporation when the corporation is the very one responsible for the confusion and mis-communication in the first place.
It also bothers me that Nick C. and others seem to believe that gossi crossed a line in publishing the email; if I write an angry letter to the editor of a paper (or a website) I would actually expect it to be published/posted. That is what they do!

And I'm sorry zeitgeist, this thread clearly was dying, but I think Nick C.'s comments required some response.
Don't situations like this one make you miss the days when the only thing you had to worry about as a fan of a given show was not missing it whenever it was on and maybe a little light-hearted discussion with other fans about what happened in the last episode?

Not that I imagine there is ever any going back now but things were a lot more simple back in the day when the networks and the fandoms kept a more comfortable distance from one another and just got on with their respective roles in making the television world happen.

I don't know. Just seems to me like the enjoyment of being a fan these days is being corrupted by legal issues and constant ratings and timeslot worries, usually before a new season begins to air. Kinda makes something that should be all about fun and escapism seem just a little too much like work, y'know?
Nick C also says I am "lying" and that I said episode 13 was "pre-empted". Both wrong.

I think it's fair to note, that he's not wrong on the last part.

Maybe there's a way to get people to notice that there are two posts with which you are in hindsight unhappy about, maybe edit them to make clear what was what, and sort out the tone-problems with Todd privately. Right now everything seems so "public battle stations!", which I don't think is doing the show any good.
wiesengrund, right from the outset of the email Todd sent, nobody will respond about it. It's hard to sort an issue out when they don't want to. And yes, you are right: I was wrong. (Parse THAT sentence). I wasn't lying about the issue, but I was sadly misinformed.

I do agree this takes all the fun out of being a viewer of a show. Rumour on the internet suggests FOX are talking about taking legal action against me/Dollverse, which -- if it reaches that stage -- will be hilariously shitty.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-23 16:59 ]
I totally see that problem with the sorting-out when they don't want to. That's why the first part of my suggestion contained some small step towards them, maybe encouraging a new dialog that way and defusing any legal action that is maybe brewing.
Gossi, I think that rumor is exactly that -- a rumor. Fox would be insane to "take legal action" against a fansite. They would stand to gain nothing and lose tons in terms of goodwill and PR. This has gotten seriously way way overblown and ridiculous. We should kill this thread and move on, as I said about hundred posts ago.
There's no way on earth they would ever actually do anything (legally) about it, due to cost. I'm not at all worried. As far as I'm concerned I'm a viewer and they're the network; if they apologise (or say anything about it) we can sort it out and I can get back to, well, watching TV.

Squishy, networks threaten legal action all the time against fan sites. It's a way of control. As far as I'm aware they've never actually filed papers against a fan.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-23 17:25 ]

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-23 17:25 ]
wiesengrund, the article you link to is exactly the place that makes me miffed that Adair, Nick C. and others seem to believe that not just the error but the bad faith lies on gossi's part: Notice that at that point he is clearly -- like the entirety of the rest of the fandom at that point -- under the impression that E1 was intended to be the last episode of the season, and he is obviously contacting or being contacted by multiple people involved with either Fox network or production about the confusion, and NO ONE there is saying "wait a minute! Epitaph 1 isn't the finale! Omega is!" or "Hey, we never licensed that one!" or "Epitaph 1? that's a wholly different thing Fox Studios made for DVDs and overseas deals!" I'm struggling for a good analogy here, but it hardly represents a lie or bad faith in representing the facts that he used the word "pre-empted." He was using language that seemed common sense and uncontroversial given what he had any reason to know. Perhaps I am wrong in the following assumption: it ain't common at all for a show produced for the network to make an extra episode during a season of production for alternate distribution. I think someone here once mentioned one of the fi-sci shows I don't watch (either stargate or babylon 5) filmed a conclusion episode a few years before the actual ending, but other than that, I can't think of a single example of this, so I can't think of any way that even a very industry-savvy and careful writer in gossi's position WOULDN'T think of the non-airing of E1 as a pre-emption. It is possible that various Fox departments were equally out of the loop on this, so their answers to gossi were equally without bad faith or dishonesty. If any of the people gossi was communicating with DID know that there was a confusion about the licensing and finale status of Epitaph 1 and withheld this info when asked about the scheduling confusion, that is where any potential dishonesty or bad faith lies, not with gossi on this particular issue. (please note, again, that I am not commenting on the issue of the May posts that Adair takes issue with. I realize that these are a different issue, one I do not feel I understand the timeline or the status of gossi's sourcing well enough to comment on who, if anyone, might deserve to share with gossi the blame that he has already himself accepted a portion of).
Yes, that's what I mean. I think the likelihood of Fox actually doing anything legal -- i.e., filing papers -- is nil. But I do think there's no point in escalating this further. No good can come of it. We all are (or should be) on the same side.
Squishy, I'm not escalating anything further. *If* (big if) Fox threaten legal action against me, that will be a total escalation. I doubt they will, as that would be dumbest thing ever. But then Universal threatened to sue Serenity fans, so you know.

Ultimately, the way I'm handling things from now on is this: I'm doing a fansite in spite of FOX's publicity department.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-23 17:42 ]
Y'know, looking forward, wouldn't it be cool if there was a basic FAQ of the truth behind certain production legends that Whedonesque or a similar fansite could maintain as an easy reference for fans or journalists or, even, network employees finding themselves in the middle of unexpected rumor tornados? It could include things like references to Joss' commentary on Angel about the "six pilot episodes" approach to building a series, or to the timing of Mary Parent getting Serenity greenlighted before Firefly DVDs were released or who the executives at Fox were circa Firefly vs. Dollhouse or what the difference between Fox network and studio is or, in this case, the timing of when certain things were known about the status of Epitaph One. I mean, most stuff we argue about isn't so empirical, but a heck of a lot of stuff that comes up over and over and gets people all het up is rooted in misunderstandings of stuff that can be empirically shown to be one way or another.
I totally agree, gossi didn't lie, he was "sadly misinformed". I never meant to say he lied or did post it in bad faith. It was a PR mixup, one that imo 20th Century Home should have cleared up, not FBC, since episode 13 is not in any way part of their responsibility. FBC had nothing to do with that episode back then, even if Joss and others had the impression (and at some points even communicated that impression) that ep 13 would air. That's a communication problem between 20th and the crew. What I wanted to say, is I get how they would be frustrated by this, since "pre-empted" shifts blame and cancellation rumors towards FBC, the only party uninvolved with "Epitaph One", like they treated that episode (and hence the show) badly. And they didn't. They got a media lash-out (that surely would have happened either way, with or without Dollverse, via Felicia's tweet or any other crew member constantly mentioning an ep that never appeared on FBC's listings) for an episode that never even was part of their job description.

So, yeah, nobody acted in bad faith back then. (The situation now, with the letter and all is definitely different.)
gossi - if you don't believe that Fox will threaten legal action against you (and you have no reason to think they will aside from an armchair lawyer's comment on NickC's blog which said it was unlikely), then don't repeat it, it just whips people up more (that's advice, not a legal threat in case anyone was wondering). There are also stories on the internet about Angel and Spi--- wait, bad example! Fox are upset that you said that it would air period. In Joe_random_fan's mind that plus "should do it before it airs internationally" translates to Fox is going to air it in July and Joe_random_fan seems to think that you either work for Fox or have high contacts within Fox. You said that you slipped up in not stating that it was not a confirmed fact and we know that you meant no ill will. Like it or not (and I know where I'd put my chips), you are perceived as an insider and what you say carries weight. Listen to Peter Parker, my friend :).

Now as I said upthread. Enough. The End. It's all just repetition and it's not helping gossi or any of us.
Was there ever a schedule on Dollverse showing the episode to air? Was it true? No? That's a lie. Did Gossi do it to hurt FOX? No. Which is why they wouldn't sue him unless they wanted to SLAPP him which is pointless. Would Felicia Day have ever thought FOX was going to air it without that schedule on Dollverse (and then copied to numerous web sites)?

I chose the word "lie," for a reason. I wanted to get the attention of Gossi. I wanted him to see it in that light, and to perhaps understand he over reacted. DOLLHOUSE doesn't need bad PR or anything else right now to taint its already tarnished brand.

To say that any letter written to an editor is being submitted with the knowledge it may be printed is entirely bogus there is such a thing as journalism ethics. In fact most letters are printed with first name and initial and town, giving the writer some anonymity! However Gossi isn't an editor, but a fan something he has pointed out.
so I can't think of any way that even a very industry-savvy and careful writer in gossi's position WOULDN'T think of the non-airing of E1 as a pre-emption

Well, no, IMHO. As I tried to outline upthread, when someone posts in March a week-by-week schedule of episodes airing that incldues Epitaph One airing on May 15, that was nothing more than a presumption based on the fact that people was still assuming that "all episodes" (the phrase then officially in use) still meant "13 episodes" (a phrase no longer officially in use).

A careful writer, industry-savvy or otherwise, would not base everything on a presumption coming off an assumption, but would realize that no one had ever actually expressly said that Epitaph One would be airing, let alone that it would be airing on a particular date. Ultimately, it stills seems to me, the foundation of FOX PR's frustration begins with that March schedule post, a post which could have been avoided.

The fact that douvtful guest references a number of theads here from April 8/9 in which so many posters have also bought into the presumption/assumption pattern is helpful, because it actually makes my (and others') point that items like that original March incorrect schedule blog is a primary source of much of the fandom's knowledge of the show. And in this case, the presumption/assumption led to the fandom having a big piece of knowledge that was, in fact, complete myth.

ETA: Writing and posting before zeit's latest "no, seriously, let's kill it". Moving on to the quotes thread.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-23 18:27 ]
To anyone hitting preview now: just navigate away. THE END.
zeitgeist, I would gladly remove my post on my blog about it all if this just happens to disappear off here and Dollverse. I don't want to tarnish DOLLHOUSE, your members, Dollverse, or anyone else.
Understood. I honestly don't think that's anyone's intent here, which makes all of this hullabaloo that much more unfortunate. milov - is that thread lock tool working yet :)?

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-23 18:34 ]
Awww, and I wanted to say something about Fox :(

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