Vancouver Sun

Showrunner­s take to Twitter to connect with their fans


NEW YORK — When a new episode of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars airs, its showrunner, I. Marlene King, makes a point to go on Twitter to see what the fans have to say. King is among the newest class of TV celebritie­s on social media: Showrunner­s who are both gaining in followers and who find that social media gives back perhaps even more than they put in.

“I pay enormous attention to it,” King said. “I am on social media live every night when the show airs and the next day as well looking at the feedback we got regarding the episode. Yes, I have vision for the show and a creative destinatio­n where I know the show is going, but I would be foolish not to take advantage of this wonderful, giant focus group of millions of people we have each week when the show airs.”

A showrunner is typically the executive producer of a TV show, with the most creative control. King said social media has helped validate her decisions about the fate of certain characters on PLL.

“I started falling in love with the character of Toby early on in the show,” she said. “We were going to follow the books and have his character die early on, but as I started to fall in love with him I noticed fans were really falling in love with him, and together as the show and the fans we decided to keep him.”

Showrunner Hart Hanson (Bones, Fox) pays attention to what the fans are saying online but makes the point that not all of his viewers are using social media.

“The entire audience is not represente­d by the Twitter follower, especially the verbose and noisy Twitter follower,” he said. “If I did what the Twitter followers wanted me to do on my show Bones, (characters) Booth and Brennan would’ve got together in the third episode. That would’ve been a very bad thing for the series. It’s complicate­d but you have to keep your distance.”

Showrunner Shonda Rhimes, whose block of prime-time ABC programmin­g on Thursday nights — Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder — has boosted her fame and has more than 791,000 Twitter followers, puts it into perspectiv­e with the disclaimer in the bio of her Twitter account:

“I make stuff up for a living. Remember, it’s not real, OK? Don’t tweet me your craziness.”

Andrew Adashek, head of TV at Twitter, says fans who follow showrunner­s can get inside informatio­n they wouldn’t otherwise have access to via dropped spoilers and hints about upcoming plots. “It’s like getting a director’s cut of every episode and people love that,” Adashek said.

Not everyone wants to be that accessible. Teen Wolf showrunner Jeff Davis used to be on Twitter and closed his account in Dec. 2012.

“There is a lot of deep negativity online that personally I like to stay away from,” he said.

“It’s hard to look at those things online and not feel a sting. The problem with people critiquing online or letting loose their own personal demons online is the individuat­ion. And you objectify them and lose all compassion.”

 ?? GREG GAYNE/FOX/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Bones showrunner Hart Hanson, left, follows tweets about the show.
GREG GAYNE/FOX/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Bones showrunner Hart Hanson, left, follows tweets about the show.

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