In light of all the petitions and polls we see from fans regarding those characters they want to return to the shows, Soaps.com wants their readers to know that we sympathize with their disappointments and even share in them from time to time. It seems there’s not a week that goes by that we don’t see a petition of some sort posted on our boards, pleading with others to join in and show their support, in an attempt to make a difference with hope of ultimately returning those stars to their roles or in the case of NBC’s Passions bring the show back to cable television.
However, the big question that looms in the minds of many is, “Do fan petitions really make a difference or are they just a way for fans to hold on to those characters, storylines or shows they’ve grown to hold close?”
Through our research we had the pleasure of speaking with a few network representatives who were able to give us a little glimpse into what role fan reaction plays and to what extent some go to in order to keep the fans happy.
While our first network source asked to remain anonymous, for corporate reasons, they did tell Soaps.com that when they want to see how fans are accepting a certain storyline or recast they place internet polls on their websites. Once the results are in, they do take the outcome into consideration when elaborating further.
A little more outspoken about fan reactions, a representative from DirecTV, along with input from producers at NBC, told Soaps.com…
“Fan participation definitely plays a roll in Passions - and is the primary reason why we resurrected it from the dead and brought it, with all new episodes, to DIRECTV. Since it’s been airing on The 101, we’ve also done a lot of things to keep the fans happy, including the world record setting event that we held on October 20th. NBC has a weekly internet poll where they post specific questions pertaining to the storylines and characters from both Passions and Days of Our Lives. The outcome of these polls is closely monitored and helps the writers and producers figure out if a storyline is working or needs to be changed. The writers and producers of Passions are also always dialed into Passions fan sites and message boards. They find that this helps them keep in touch with their core audience. One specific example of a fan-driven storyline is the marriage between Theresa & Ethan. They are the show’s most popular couple and as a thank you to the fans after being so faithful for 8 years, the writers decided to reward them with a marriage between the two.”
During a conversation with The Young and the Restless actor Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), Christian gave us some insight into how important fan reaction is...
"Believe it or not, the fans are the most motivational, powerful factor around. The shows have a whole team of people who scour fan sites looking for fan reactions to certain characters and storylines. Although technology is scary to some, it’s great to have places like Soaps.com, a venue to find fan response! It’s a two way street… While the shows aim to bring the fans great entertainment, and hope they’ll give a certain character or storyline a chance, ultimately, the show wants their fans happy."
Although we assume these methods can surely make or break a decision regarding a storyline, when it comes to character recasts, we need to realize that it’s not always the fault of the show. For whatever reason an actor may feel it’s time to spread their wings and decide to leave a soap. This doesn't mean they don't sympathize with their fans. In fact, this is a job for them and they need to do what's best - despite the storyline. On the other hand, in defense of the soaps, for the sake of a certain storyline, as sad as it may be, we need to take into account that it’s not always a good thing for that old beloved soap character to come back to a place where they no longer fit in.
Soaps.com hopes we’ve helped clear up the mystery behind one of the most popular questions on our messages boards these days, “Fan Petitions: Do they make a difference?” and hope you’ll take to heart what our sources have explained! Because, in the end, you, the fans, may very well be their final voice of reason!
Christine Fix, Editor-in-Chief, with Amy Mistretta, Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief