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Home Features Exclusives Nader Fans Call for Tune-Out of AMC November 5th

Nader Fans Call for Tune-Out of AMC November 5th


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Rally to keep Michael Nader on AMC rivals political movements

Fed up with the way All My Children wrote Michael Nader (Dimitri) off the show, and rallying to support the actor who was treated poorly by the network, Nader's fans are calling for a Tune-Out on Friday, November 5, 1999, smack dab in the middle of November sweeps. Many fans have stopped watching all together.

"If Michael Nader had voluntarily left, I'd be crushed," said Michelle via email. "But I'd still watch. Since he was fired, all sorts of emotions come to play. Outrage, bitterness, resentment. I will not watch AMC until they bring him back."

"I'd be glad to join the November 5th tune-out," said Becky, a poster on the Turtle-Run Message Boards. "Actually, I think it would be harder to get people to tune in!"

"We are so disappointed in how AMC has treated Michael and how disrespectfully they have treated the fans," Rebecca Appleberry wrote in email. "Shame on them for turning their back on those who have given AMC years of support."

Known as the "Loyalists," Nader fans have organized their outrage by boycotting network sponsors, mounting major email, snail mail, and petition campaigns, even cornering the show's producer at the AMC fan club luncheon, and exhibiting a noticeable presence at ABC's Super Soap Weekend wearing black arm bands. In addition to the November 5th Tune-Out, a protest rally at ABC studios in NYC is planned.

Meet the Loyalists

The Loyalists are Nader fans from across the country who met via cyberspace when ABC hosted a forum on America Online. Originally formed to promote a rekindling of the Dimitri/Erica pairing, they were loyal to the royals, hence the name. But when rumors of Nader's firing began to surface last May, they shifted the focus toward saving Dimitri. The Nader Campaign website went live in June, with new Loyalists joining the cause each day. Those singled out here want to thank everyone who has contributed to the campaign. It is a true joint effort. They appreciate the help, encouragement, and support of all involved.

Carole Cornett, Florida

"I am certainly not the driving force," said Carole Cornett on her involvement in the Loyalists, "but I am definitely a driven one!" Cornett, a CPA and CFO of a packaging business in Florida, is rather new to the group, having joined after hearing rumors of Nader's impending dismissal. Cornett became the guardian of the "Save Nader Petition." She suggested it and assured its statistical accuracy. The petition has over 1500 names and addresses, "and I collected every one," said Cornett.

She also organized the wearing of the black arm bands at Super Soap Weekend this past September. "I saw people wearing those," said my editor at Soap Opera Weekly. "So, that's who they were!" Cornett's not completely sure but she heard that Michael Knight, while doing an interview on stage that weekend, stopped the show to ask an audience member about the arm bands.

Cornett also composed the email calling for the Tune-Out on November 5th, which was distributed to the Save Nader campaign email list, then they sent it to two friends, and they sent it to two friends, and so on, until a copy found it's way to my email box. "I have been so busy replying to the email," said Carole. "Everyone is asking 'what can I do to help?'"

Cornett believes soaps survive "because we are so disenfranchised in our culture today, and we long for what used to be, which is family and connections with other people. An argument for the success of the internet," she laughed. "And soaps provide that, but only if they keep the veterans and the people we want to see. They have become our family. Michael Nader's character, Dimitri, exemplified that. He was someone who struggled for family. To take him away in the manner in which they did it, is destroying the very essence of what I think keep the soaps alive. They are shooting themselves in both feet."

{It's not only AMC fans voicing this complaint. As the World Turns fans have been upset with producers for doing the same thing to their veteran characters. The new regime headed by Chris Goutman is attempting to rectify the problem and bring back veterans like Elizabeth Hubbard's Lucinda. Days of Our Lives has just let go Louise Sorel, Vivian, after an 8-year stint on the show, upsetting many long-time Days viewers.}

"They hire these new young 'models' who can pose but not act, and who we care nothing about," said Cornett. "Our fear is that these executives, in their cocoons, are destroying the program."

Darlene, MA

Known to the other Loyalists as the "Hungarian Goulash Witch," eight-time grandmother, and 30-year fan of the show, Darlene weaned her children on AMC and would have done the same for her grandchildren, except that her favorite character is now gone. "AMC was a real family thing. I used to watch All My Children, and was also a big Dynasty fan. When Michael Nader came to Pine Valley it was perfect. When I heard he was going to be fired, I emailed one of the Loyalists and got acquainted with them. It all grew from there. There were so many fans who were very upset. We didn't start the protest, we just helped channel it," said Darlene. "They needed a place to go, and when the website was created, that's what brought it all together."

Darlene, a retired Human Resource Manager for a major department store chain, traveled to NYC to attended the AMC Fan Club luncheon. She snagged a few minutes alone with AMC Executive Producer, Jean Dadario Burke. "She was very gracious, very nice," said Darlene. "But very noncommittal. She followed the party-line that it was a mutual decision, that they loved Michael."

Darlene asked Burke if she had seen the petition, but Burke knew nothing of it. Burke questioned her assistant, who said they had received it. "That really irked me," said Darlene. "The assistant didn't think it was important enough to pass on to her boss. I happened to have a copy of the petition, along with a copy of the guest book, and I gave them both to Burke." Burke left the luncheon carrying the petition and promised Darlene she would review it.

"I told Ms. Burke that I felt I was representing the thousands of fans out there who are not on the internet, who do not realize they can write in," said Darlene. "She was very nice, and heard me out. We didn't speak long, she was leaving. I think she was sneaking out through the kitchen. It had been a rough day for her. Because of all the questions. Not necessarily all about Michael Nader, but about a lot of things (regarding AMC) the fans were questioning. I did get to ask her if she was aware of the internet postings. She was, and said they placed value on them, but didn't say whether she personally read them."

Burke's last comment to Darlene was the door is still open for Nader. "But they have to ask him," Darlene said. "It is quite one thing for the door to be open, and quite another to work it out so he can walk through it. The Nader Campaign is something that we started, and perhaps we will reach our goal. If we don't, we have given it our best. We would like to see Michael return to AMC, but if he doesn't come back, we wish him well in whatever he does. We will follow him wherever he goes."

Marci Sager, IL

Marci began watching AMC about 4 years ago, much later than the other Loyalists. She was immediately enamored with Dimitri. Once she got her computer and signed on, she met up with Darlene. "Darlene brought me into the group," she said. "She was upset because Dimitri didn't have much of a storyline and got me involved in writing to the show about that."

Marci runs the shipping department of a major electronics company. She became heavily involved in the Save Nader campaign, advertising the website and petition on various message boards, as well as recruiting support from friends, family, and other AMC fans who were not online. "I try to keep his name alive on the boards," said Marci. She got many people to join the cause and write in.

"The postcards we received in response have been an insult," she said. "I know it's their standard reply card but to say 'We are happy you are so happy with the show" makes us think they are not even reading our mail and petitions. I am so annoyed," she said. "We're not lunatics, we are just fans and we really miss Dimitri. The November 5th tune-out is a way to show our solidarity and get the producers' attention."

Marci and many fans recognize the irony. "Producers finally gave Dimitri a good storyline, then fired him. That's the most frustrating part," said Marci. "I would have loved to have seen him act out the illness. His chemistry with Finola Hughes (Alex) is amazing. I think they (AMC) blew it." The fans are not the only ones noticing the Hughes/Nader chemistry. "Even the magazines are commenting on it," said Marci, "so you know 'they' know. We are just hoping they change their minds."

Deborah Hutton, CA

Original Loyalist, Deborah Hutton, is a Training Supervisor for UPS. "I am not a founder of the group, but I came on board at the very beginning," Hutton recalled. A consummate web designer, she agreed to create the website for the Nader Campaign in her free time. "Web design was my area of expertise, so to speak," she said. "We thought the website would be the best way to promote our campaign throughout the internet. It would also serve as campaign headquarters, as it was virtually an online venture." Launched in June, the website has received over 10,000 visitors to date.

Laurie, NY

Laurie is a founding Loyalist. "It started as a group of us online, going to message boards as fans of Erica and Dimitri," recalled Laurie. "The old ABC AOL Boards had one called Erica and Dimitri Remembered. We would post there, discussing their relationship and how we were great fans of Susan Lucci and Michael Nader. Several of us decided to start an email group. Barbara, Vicki, Becky,Michelle, Deb, Sarah and I started talking via email. At one time we had over 25 people on the email loop. We began to tack "loyalist" to our signatures, and that's how it happened. We thought that maybe as a group, we could convince the powers that be at AMC to bring Erica and Dimitri back together."

They first heard the rumors regarding Nader's firing last May. "We emailed ABCTim (Tim Lund, an online writer for abc.com) asking if it was true. We even emailed Walt Willey (Jackson, AMC), who replied that he, personally, hadn't heard anything about it at that time. When it was finally confirmed that Nader was let go, we banned together and created the website."

Laurie is also planning a protest at the ABC studios in New York. "Our idea is to stand outside the studio from 7 am and start picketing." They had wanted to do this last summer, when Nader was still taping scenes, and had 25 people willing to participate. "People were flying in from out of state!" said Laurie. "But someone said we needed a permit, or we could get arrested, so we've been working on getting one."

In addition, Laurie contacted Star Jones of the View an admitted AMC fan, and Rosie O'Donnell, another major fan of AMC, to enlist their support. She is waiting for replies.

Laurie, a former Office Manager for an Insurance Agency, is a stay at home mom who is never at home! "Currently, I am kid driver, Brownie Leader, Class Mother for both my kids, PTA picture-taker, and all around home efficiency engineer!" All that and she still has time to campaign for Dimitri. "I am disappointed that the network has not acknowledged the chemistry between Nader and Hughes," she said. "The whole Loyalist thing of wanting Dimitri with Erica flew right out the window when we saw him with Alex," laughed Laurie. "We always said, if we ever saw him with someone with whom he shared such great chemistry, then that's who we want him with. I want him back and I want him back with Alex."

Michelle

Original Loyalist, Michelle best sums up a Loyalists devotion to Dimitri in her email: "There is something special about this man that brings all sorts of emotions into the game. I can't explain it. I don't know if there is another actor/actress that would provoke such loyalty from me. I will not watch AMC until they bring him back, nor will I support a show that has treated this wonderful man and his many fans with such disrespect. I will do whatever I can, for as long as it takes, to get him back where he belongs." She has been writing the network, posting and emailing on Nader's behalf for over three years. "First it was to get him more airtime. Now, it's to save the character," Michelle said. For her "Michael Nader is Dimitri Marick. There will never be another man as wonderfully charismatic, sexy, and totally entertaining."

Is the Campaign Working?

The only communication the Loyalists have gotten from the network are standard reply cards that say thanks for writing and stay tuned to ABC Daytime, your great escape. Not exactly the response they're after, but it seems as though they are making an impact.

"After I taped the final scenes, the flashbacks with Finola (Hughes, Alex)," said Michael Nader, "I packed up and left the show. Then, I got a call from Jeannie (Dadairo Burke, AMC's Executive Producer)," who asked Nader to return for a few more scenes. "How can Dimitri come back?" he teased Burke. "He's dead!" They taped the Seaview hospital sequence, then Nader relocated to Los Angeles to pursue other acting venues.

Being asked back for those hospital scenes was Nader's first indication the fans were unhappy. Receiving a copy of the Save Nader petition confirmed it. "It was very touching," he said.

Nader has not heard from the network about a return on a contract basis, although Burke did call again after taking heat at the fan club lunch, asking if he'd consider coming back for a few days here or there. "No thanks," Nader told his former producer. "That didn't make sense to me," said Nader, but he does not seem bitter. He applauded the writers' cleverness in weaving a fantastic story for his exit. "Dimitri had a light storyline for the past year, so the illness was a wonderful way to explain his absence." He also enjoyed playing the Count-turned-evil the year before. "I loved that," he said.

Nader is open to a possible return to Pine Valley, as he misses being a part of something that was a part of him for 8 years. However, it would have to be the right offer. Whatever happens, Nader remains grateful to the fans for their continued support. "It proves to me that my work on the show meant something." he said.

In Defense of All My Children

ABC is owned by Disney, an entertainment company with the industry-wide reputation of being tight with money. Veteran actors earn far more than newcomers. They can hire three young stars and give them interaction in three storylines each. That's nine stories for the same financial outlay that gave them two or three. Much more bang for the buck! This makes The Mouse very happy, but for veteran actors and their fans? Not so good.
Likewise, veteran actors demands may exceed what the network feels is their worth to the show. "TVQ," simply put, is an actor's recognizability quotient. In the network's eyes, TVQs may not match current salary and perks, much less a bump.

Advertiser pressures may dictate a show's focus, which impacts casting.

Actors may be cantankerous on the set, or not have their work prepared, which interrupts the flow for other actors and could result in retakes and longer shooting days, costing the show more money. Aside from story direction, demographics, and other marketing concerns, there are many things behind the scenes that could effect a network's decision to renew or cancel a contract.

Additionally, the network is inundated with mail sent by groups who want different things. AMC has the Loyalists for Dimitri, the Fatalists, a group sworn to mutiny if Tad and Liza ever pair. But there is also a group who would love to see Tad with Liza. There are The Adam and Liza Maniacs, the Ryan and Gillian fans, the TadandDixie people, who refuse to accept Tad with any other romantic interest. There are those who hate Jake. Those who love him. There are the Erica and David fans, languishing in that romance and chemistry. Then, there are those who feel the pairing is "just sex." There are the Pod People, fans disgruntled by favorite characters who have become pods of their former selves. The list goes on.

Producers can't please everyone. If they kowtow to one group's demands, they will alienate another. Therefore, they base decisions on what's best for the show overall, in their opinion. They strive to find ways to keep their audience, build their audience, do it within a certain budget, accommodate the actors, and tell compelling stories that draw us in and entertain. Sometimes they make a mistake.

I do not envy producers and writers of daytime television. It's a 24-hour a day job. They work hard accomplishing it under severe pressures from the network, its parent company, the actors, and the fans. There are bound to be decisions that enrage some of the viewers.  (LMS 10/28/99)


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