I admit it, I tweet. For the uninitiated, “tweet” is the term for the 140 character updates Twitter allows you to post, broadcasting your interests, boredom, or messages to fellow members. Although it has been compared to another social networking site, Facebook, that uses status updates in much the same way, the thing about Twitter is that it isn’t quite so personal. I have a Facebook page and use the site regularly, but I do so to keep in contact with friends and close associates. I use Twitter to “follow”, the term used for receiving another user’s tweets, television stars, entertainment news blogs, and writers who I am not personally acquainted with.
Television and Twitter
There are a number of people involved in the television industry on Twitter now, and people have begun to take notice of Twitter as a marketing tool and a way to gauge popularity. The social networking site uses trending topics, meaning that the more a topic is mentioned in an individual’s tweets, the higher profile it receives. The most used subjects are pushed into the top ten trending topics. Often this includes recent news items, such as Kanye West’s outburst at the MTV Video Music awards, or the death of a celebrity, but during Primetime hours the Trending Topics often include television shows.
When Fox aired the premiere for its new comedy Glee in May, after the ratings juggernaut American Idol, executives were less concerned with its ratings and more interested in regarding the sneek peek as a marketing initiative. Although they certainly took note of the fact that the pilot was watched by 9.6 million viewers, staffers also monitored iTunes, blogs, and Twitter in order to measure reactions to the show. The debut was largely a success, and one Fox e-mail read “It was the No.1 topic all night on Twitter”. Since then the show has continued to be among the top ten topics on Twitter each Wednesday night it airs.
Television fans have discovered the importance of Twitter as well, with some organizing awareness campaigns using the popular site. Although NBC’s Chuck was picked up for a third season, it was a close call for Chuck fans, who decided to use the hiatus to generate publicity for the show. The ‘Chuck Me Mondays’ campaign aimed to draw new viewers to the show by re-watching episodes of Chuck on Monday, its regular night. Additionally they used twitter, tweeting #chuckmemondays in an attempt to make the trending topics list and generate interest in the show. With the third season of the show not airing until early 2010, the fans are continuing their campaign, watching the second season from the beginning. This week they tweeted We Heart Chuck in order to honour the campaign of the same name to raise funds for the American Heart Association, which has currently raised close to $20,000.
This TV enthusiast recalls being spoiled for Torchwood: Children of Earth when ‘Ianto’ appeared as a trending topic on the same night that “Day Four” was scheduled to air in the UK. Surely the trending of a character’s name couldn’t be good news. There’s an argument to be made that I shouldn’t have clicked on the topic, but I was more of less sure that Ianto was dead as soon as I saw his name, the click only confirmed it.
Perhaps the most interesting occurrence of television on Twitter happened more than a week ago when fans of the CW drama Supernatural garnered attention by banding together to push the hashtags #Supernatural and #luciferiscoming into Twitter’s trending topics. In the season finale, brothers and demon hunters Sam and Dean Winchester began the apocalypse by inadvertently releasing Lucifer from Hell, so for Supernatural fans #Luciferiscoming referred to the fifth season, premiering that night, in which Lucifer was a character. Unfortunately the message was misinterpreted by some, including P. Diddy, who tweeted the following:
I’m calling GODS ARMY TO ATTENTION!! #GODISHERE #GODISHERE #GODISHERE let the devil know the fight he’s in for! Retweet all day! Make GOD #1
Soon there was a battle for the top spot, with Supernatural fans continuing to tweet #luciferiscoming while Diddy’s followers re-tweeted #godishere, even though Diddy had been informed by many that the hashtag referred to the fictional show and not to Devil worshippers. The Twitter war caused confusion among the uninformed, “leading many users to question whether today held some religious significance or if the tags were in response to the anniversary of the 09/11 attacks upon the Twin Towers in New York back in 2001 – one user mused that perhaps the two trends were the result of sick, twisted humour in that regard.” Twitter took action, removing both hashtags from the trending topics entirely, but Supernatural fans continued to Tweet, encouraged by actor Misha Collins, who plays the angel Castiel on the series. However, new rallying cries, the more innocent #pdiddyisscaredofhistv and #twitterisafraidofmishasminions have also been blocked by Twitter, causing some to wonder about censorship.
Twitter has its own set of popular hashtags for days of the week, including “Music Mondays” and “Follow Fridays”. It would be impossible to rhyme off all users of Twitter who are involved with television, but for Follow Friday here are some of those worth following for fellow TV enthusiasts.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Joss Whedon and his works. Although the man himself is not on Twitter, many “Whedonverse” talents are, including Castle star Nathan Fillion, his Doctor Horrible co-star Felicia Day, who also stars in her own popular web series The Guild, and writer Maurissa Tancharoen. Dollhouse stars Eliza Dushku (Echo), Dichen Lachman (Sierra), and Miracle Laurie (November) are also on Twitter. Canadian Jewel Staite, who played Kaylee in Firefly, has an account, as do Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast members Anthony Stewart Head (Giles), Amber Benson (Tara), Tom Lenk (Andrew), and Alyson Hannigan (Willow). To keep up to date on all Whedon related news, follow Whedonesque.
A number of other Television actors and actresses tweet. Among them is the aforementioned Misha Collins, who has gained a lengion of “minions” with his humourous tweets. Julie Benz (Dexter) has an account, as does Pushing Daisies star Kristin Chenoweth, and Burn Notice‘s Jeffrey Donovan. It’s only fair that Aldis Hodge, who plays a hacker on TNT’s Leverage with the motto “Age of the Geek” has an account, but so do his co-stars Tim Hutton (Nate), Beth Riesgraf (Parker), and Angel alum Christian Kane (Eliot).
Jeremy Piven, voted “least deserving of their 2009 Emmy” by TWoP readers, is on Twitter, along with Corbin Bleu of the new show The Beautiful Life, which premiered with a dismal 1.5 million viewers. If you’re missing Dirty Sexy Money you can follow two of its stars, Lucy Liu and Blair Underwood through the Social Networking site, or for someone completely different there’s John Lithgow, who plays the Trinity Killer in the fourth season of Dexter. Christopher Gorham, of the summer show Harper’s Island, has an account and for some Canadian content there’s Degrassi actors Adamo Ruggiero and Lauren Collins. Fans of CW drama Gossip Girl are no doubt already following stars Leighton Meester and Blake Lively. While for any Trekkies out there, Brent Spiner and Levar Burton are worth following.
Unless you have an iPhone you probably won’t find Heroes star Greg Grunberg all that interesting. He tweets mainly to promote his money saving application Yowza!, but co-stars Zachary Quinto (Sylar), James Kyson Lee (Ando) and former Heroes actresses Kristin Bell (Elle), and Brea Grant (Daphne) might be more interesting.
Actors aren’t the only ones using Twitter. Just as interesting are some of the writers and other individuals who work behind the scenes in television, including James Clark, the On Set Prop Master for Heroes, and Doris Egan, a writer and co-executive producer on House m.d. Former Buffy and Battlestar Galactica scribe Jane Espenson, who is currently working on Caprica, has an account as well. Also on Twitter are Whedon brother Zack Whedon, who worked on the Emmy winning Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog and Hart Hanson, the creator of Bones. For the TV enthusiast who isn’t spoiler shy, following writers, and actors, on Twitter can mean getting tidbits about upcoming episodes.
With the network’s use of Twitter both to promote Glee and to air reruns with commentary that comes from Twitter comments made live by its cast, it comes as no surprise that most of the young cast have their own accounts, such as Lea Michele (Rachel Berry) Cory Monteith, who plays Finn, even uses the nickname given to his character in the last episode, “Frankenteen”, as his account name. The rest of the Glee cast is comprised of Chris Colfer (Kurt), Diana Agron (Quinn), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Kevin McHale (Artie), Mark Salling (Puck), and Amber Riley (Mercedes).
Another show with a strong presence on Twitter is So You Think You Can Dance. It’s always interesting to read what the choreographers thought of the performances and the judges are quite good at interacting their their followers. Nigel Lythgoe, Tabitha and Napoleon, and Lil C all actively tweet. Less active are Mia Michaels and Tyce Diorio. For fans of the Canadian version of the show there’s judge Blake McGrath, and back on the original series sometimes judge Debbie Allen. Of course no list would be complete without the new third judge on the show, Adam Shankman! Former contestants on Twitter include Travis Wall, whose amazing piece of choreography should be nominated for an Emmy next year, contemporary dancer Courtney Galiano and, one of my favourite contestants, Mark Kanemura.
Naturally there are also too many American Idol contestants to name, including Adam Lambert, winner Kris Allen, and David Cook. Other Idol personalities with accounts are Randy Jackson, new judge Ellen DeGeneres, and Ryan Seacrest.
Just as interesting to me as the television stars and writers are updates from entertainment blogs and journalists. An article takes time to write up while Twitter is an instant way to communicate any breaking news to interested parties. What better way to stay up to date with your favourite TV shows than to follow one or more TV journalists? Personally, I’m fond of The Nick C Blog, James Hibberd of The Live Feed, and Hercules the Strong of Ain’t It Cool News, but other choices include Robert Seidman and, for spoilers more than anything else, Michael Ausiello.
Finally there’s Happy Squared, a Twitter account that provides “Daily affirmations from everyone’s favourite sea sponge” with tweets like “When spying on a neighbor late at night, be careful not to be lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of his clarinet.” and “If you’re going to skip town and live under a new name, try to come up with something that’ll really fool ’em: like “BobPants SpongeSquare.”
Clearly in the Twitter Universe, there is something, or somesponge, for everyone.