Fans' Nutty Campaign May Save 'Jericho' From Tumbling

Jake (Skeet Ulrich, right) and the rest of the gang from the town of
Jake (Skeet Ulrich, right) and the rest of the gang from the town of "Jericho" may be thrown a lifeline. (By Cliff Lipson -- Cbs)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Because it received thousands of e-mails, letters and phone calls, and about 20 tons of peanuts, CBS is trying to bring back "Jericho" -- the apocalyptic survivalist series it canceled because it was averaging only about 8 million viewers at the end of its first season.

Hard to make the math work on this story, but there you are.

CBS isn't talking. But a source, who did not want to be identified in any way, shape or form -- in perfect keeping with a story about rabid peanut-shipping fans of a show tailor-made for people to watch at night while cleaning their stash of guns -- said CBS contacted cast and crew to try to secure their services to bring back the show for a midseason run, of as few as eight episodes.

CBS's stab at a serialized the-end-is-near drama starred Skeet Ulrich as one resident of Jericho, a peaceful Kansas town -- the presence of notorious troublemaker Gerald McRaney notwithstanding -- plunged into social, psychological and physical mayhem when one day a nuclear mushroom cloud suddenly appears on the horizon.

Why send nuts, you are probably wondering. Well, in the series finale, hero Jake Green (Ulrich) borrowed the famous WWII nose-thumbing line delivered by the acting commander of the 101st Airborne when the Germans demanded that U.S. troops surrender at the Battle of Bastogne. Skeet was responding to a demand for surrender from residents of a formerly peaceful town located down the road a spell. And Jericho fanatics are carrying on the tradition, delivering the same message of non-surrender to CBS suits.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said at a recent conference that the campaign to save "Jericho" had reached "Touched by an Angel" proportions, including an "unbelievable" number of e-mails that, grievously, the tech-savvy "Jericho" forces managed to get past his computer's filters.

According to our paranoid source, about 30,000 protest e-mails were sent in just the first week after CBS unveiled its "Jericho"-less prime-time schedule to advertisers in New York last month.

One CBS exec has had to change his phone number after being swamped with phone calls in re the show's cancellation.

The news media have been going, um, bananas over the save "Jericho" campaign, taking only the briefest of breaks to report on the sacking of NBC entertainment chief Kevin Reilly.

Web sites navel-gazed about the effectiveness of sending various products to network suits in an effort to resurrect a dead show, such as the banana-shaped stress balls sent to Fox programming chief Gail Berman to save "Arrested Development," or the bottles of Tabasco sauce favored by alien teens, as part of the campaign to save the WB's "Roswell," or the rented Ferris wheel with which "Everwood" fans hoped to mesmerize CW chief Dawn Ostroff.

Video of peanuts being delivered to CBS execs in New York and Los Angeles popped up on YouTube.

Newspapers reported on the holy-war-ness of the campaign and how it's best never to use the word "canceled" in reference to a show designed to cater to the post-apocalyptic crowd. Also, they ran stories on the wiliness of the head of a company called Nuts Online who had never seen "Jericho" but nonetheless turned its cancellation into commerce, selling nearly 20 tons (at press time) of peanuts to infuriated fans.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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