Ac­tors ad­just as fans talk back on so­cial me­dia

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia

So­cial me­dia is giv­ing tele­vi­sion stars and cre­ators a more di­rect re­la­tion­ship with fans. As ac­tor Joseph Mor­gan of the CW’s The Orig­i­nals can at­test, that re­quires a thick skin.

The con­nec­tion can be par­tic­u­larly in­tense for shows on the CW, which has a com­par­a­tively young au­di­ence and shows with a heavy geek fac­tor of comic-book he­roes, vam­pires and zom­bies. Fans don’t hes­i­tate to speak out about what they do or don’t like on their fa­vorite pro­grams.

“There are al­ways peo­ple who feel strongly that they don’t like some­thing that hap­pens,” Mor­gan, who plays Nik­laus Ma­iael­son in The Vam­pire Di­aries spinoff, said at a tele­vi­sion con­fer­ence on Sun­day. “You have to ac­cept that that’s a good thing — as long as peo­ple are feel­ing one way or another.”

The on­line re­sponse makes him feel like he’s in­volved in the big­gest play he’s ever been in, says Ian Somer­halder, who plays Damon Sal­va­tore in The Vam­pire Di­aries.

Caro­line Dries, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of The Vam­pire Di­aries, says her stu­dio en­cour­ages pro­duc­ers and ac­tors to live tweet when episodes of the show are air­ing. She’s re­sisted so far — she finds it “an­noy­ing” — but she does watch what peo­ple are say­ing.

The dan­ger can come in lis­ten­ing too much. Do you try to write the show in re­sponse to what you think fans want to see?

“The fans are so po­lar­ized in what they are root­ing for that, to ap­pease all of them, the show would be gob­bledy­gook,” Dries says. “It wouldn’t make any sense.”

Dries’ Twit­ter fol­low­ing is almost en­tirely com­posed of show fans. She takes the feed­back like any hu­man would — pride when some­thing she’s writ­ten draws praise, hurt feel­ings when it’s the op­po­site.

Ac­tors and pro­duc­ers are warned against get­ting into on­line ar­gu­ments with fans, although they don’t al­ways suc­ceed. Michael Nar­ducci, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of The Orig­i­nals, found him­self get­ting into a heated back-and-forth with a 16-year-old.

He said he was re­spond­ing to some­one who sug­gested that one of the show’s char­ac­ters be killed off.

“Our fans are so pas­sion­ate,” he says. “I want them to be pas­sion­ate, but it hurts my feel­ings when they are in­sult­ing to the ac­tors. They’re my friends, and I want to support them. I’mnot go­ing to kill off a character just be­cause some­one on Twit­ter says that I should.”

As a net­work ex­ec­u­tive, the only neg­a­tive that CW pres­i­dent Mark Pe­dowitz sees is when some fans be­come ob­sessed by a per­former and be­come an on­line pest.

“On the whole, you want your tal­ent and ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers out there en­gag­ing with the fans,” Pe­dowitz says, “be­cause they make your shows. They are the con­sumers.”

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