News from this week’s network upfronts has been emerging in 140-character chunks — thanks to the exploding popularity of Twitter.
As a result, it’s no longer newspapers or blogs breaking news of series orders or cancellations. Quite frequently, it’s producers and stars themselves who are sending out the info first.
When Fox and sister studio 20th Century Fox TV finally came to a deal on a two-year renewal for “Bones,” neither side would confirm the deal. But it didn’t matter: Exec producer Hart Hanson had beat them to the punch anyway via his Twitter account.
“Just got a call from ‘Bones’ Fox exec James (‘Don’t call me Jimmy”) Oh with an official unofficial pickup,” Hanson told his Twitter followers on Saturday morning. ” ‘Bones’ is back for Season V!”
Stories about the “Bones” renewal started appearing soon after the Hanson tweet, and although the network and studio still wouldn’t officially confirm, they also wouldn’t deny what Hanson had just shared with his nearly 3,200 followers.
On the flip side, “The Unusuals” creator Noah Hawley had to break the news to his Twitter readers that ABC had passed on a renewal.
“Friends, just heard ‘The Unusuals’ will not be back for a second season,” he tweeted. “Thanks for all your amazing support. Last 4 episodes start May 27.”
At the same time, “Castle” star Nathan Fillion got some better news: ABC had picked up his show — something he couldn’t wait to tell his 51,000 followers.
“I can’t remember the last time I had a second season of ANYTHING,” he typed. “I don’t know if I remember what to do. Step one: go to Canada. Relax.”
All of this adds a new wrinkle to the jobs of network and studio PR teams, who don’t have much or any say when it comes to what their stars and producers opt to share. (Of course, some of those PR execs are tweeting about series pickups — or at least, strongly hinting at the news — themselves.) The irony is that some of those same producers are tweeting only because the studio and/or network asked them to join Twitter to keep fans updated on news of their shows.
“Yes, it can be difficult to both control the flow of information and to ensure that the information that does get out is accurate,” said one TV PR vet. “But it’s the new-media world that we live in now.”