Nutty 'Jericho' Fans Make CBS Reconsider Canceling Show

Network reconsidering show's cancellation after receiving nuts from fans.

February 9, 2009, 6:43 PM

June 6, 2007— -- A campaign to send CBS thousands and thousands of pounds of peanuts to protest the network's decision to cancel a television show appears to be working.

When CBS canceled "Jericho," a show about life in a small town after several nuclear bombs go off across the country, its fans started to rebel.

Internet chat rooms -- including a popular one on CBS's own Web site -- filled with talk about how to convince the network to bring back the show.

One method: nuts.

So far, nearly 40,000 pounds of nuts have been sent to various network executives in New York and Los Angeles. That's about 8 million peanuts.

Now it looks like the outpouring of peanuts might be working.

Quoting an anonymous source, The Associated Press Tuesday said CBS is reconsidering its decision to cancel the show. A decision on whether to bring the show back, probably for a midseason run, is imminent, the AP reported.

"They got us hooked on this great drama. … They make you actually care about the characters," said Kevin M. Russell, a fan-turned-nut-shipper from Fort Smith, Ark. "Then they pull the plug."

"Bottom line, it's to make a statement," Russell added. "We're tired of the networks telling us what to watch."

What started out as individual fans shipping nuts quickly became an organized movement.

Jeff Knoll, a fan in Oakville, Ontario, was thinking about shipping some nuts but was worried about them getting delayed in customs. That's when he stumbled across

He started talking to Jeffrey Braverman, whose family has run the nut distribution company now called for three generations.

"I had never watched 'Jericho,'" Braverman said. "I was brushing this off at first. I didn't understand the magnitude of this."

He had noticed some strange orders coming in for nuts to CBS but didn't piece it together until Knoll picked up the phone.

That's when Braverman decided to revamp his Web site so "Jericho" fans could pool their resources.

Instead of shipping a few nuts at a time, the fans could chip in $5, $10 or $20 for a larger delivery that would make a statement.

So far, about $54,000 has come in.

Braverman said he is offering the fans the nuts at close to cost.

Granted, he gains a group of new customers and is getting plenty of free advertising on blogs, message boards and from the mainstream media.

Clarke Ingram is one of the people who started working on a campaign earlier this month. Before the series even ended, he and others on the Web started talking about what to do if CBS decided to cancel the show.

"I'm 50 years old, and this is the best show I've ever seen," Ingram said.

He and other fans just started tossing out ideas. Radio host Shaun O'Mac also started talking about "Jericho."

So why nuts?

In the final episode of "Jericho," the town is under siege from a neighboring community.

When asked to surrender, lead character Jake Green, played by Skeet Ulrich, has a one-word response: "Nuts."

The response is a reference to Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, a U.S. Army general who in World War II was surrounded by Germans demanding his surrender.

His response: "Nuts."

The fictional residents of "Jericho" took Jake Green's "nuts" as a rallying cry as they fought the larger force from the neighboring town. Fans never got to see the outcome of the battle. The season -- and now apparently the show -- ended there.

So is CBS nuts?

"Right now they are," Russell said. "They still have time to change their minds."

This is not the first time a protest has taken on a culinary nature.

When fans feared that WB was going to cancel "Roswell," they sent tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce to the network. It was the favorite condiment of the show's aliens. "Roswell" was moved to a new night and time and was renewed for a second season.

When Fox canceled "Arrested Development," fans sent the network bananas in protest. (The family featured in the series ran a beachfront banana stand.)

So what is CBS going to do now that it has enough peanuts to feed a parade of elephants?

They will be donated to City Harvest, a New York City program that takes excess food and distributes it to community food programs for the poor, according to Phil Gonzales, a CBS spokesman. Some of the nuts are also on their way to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Staten Island Homefront Project.

Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, was one of the nut recipients.

After receiving the packages, she posted a statement on "Jericho's" message board.

"We have read your e-mails over the past few days and have been touched by the depth and passion with which you have expressed your disappointment. Please know that canceling a television series is a very difficult decision," she wrote.

"In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide closure to the compelling drama that was the 'Jericho' story," she added.

Dan Shotz, producer of "Jericho," told ABC News in an e-mail: "We, the producers, are so moved by the outpouring of support for 'Jericho.' The way this show has resonated with our audience means the world to us. We have the greatest fans. We appreciate their tireless efforts to help their favorite show return to television. We are doing everything we can to help in that endeavor."

Several of the actors have also weighed in on the message boards.

"I'm thrilled to witness that the themes of our show have resonated with you," wrote actor Kenneth Mitchell, who played Eric Green. "Your recent rally has brought new meaning to the episodes 'Why We Fight' and 'Coalition of the Willing.' I'm surprised Planters Peanuts hasn't called to do a cross promotion."

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