If I Was Les Moonves:
Or, Why I Won't Be Donating Thousands of Dollars To TrekUnited
by Michelle Erica Green
If I was a Viacom executive, and I had any intention of keeping Star Trek: Enterprise on the air, here's what my strategy would be through early 2005.
First off, I'd cancel the show, after months of suggesting that I would do just that. Enterprise is doing nothing for UPN and vice versa; UPN is quite simply no longer the appropriate venue for it, as UPN -- once the adolescent white boys' network -- now wants to attract women and urban audiences. But fortunately, if I was a Viacom executive, I'd have another option. I'd have Spike, the Men's Network, which conveniently already hosts reruns of the other Trek shows. People associate Spike with Star Trek. It's the perfect place for Enterprise: Reloaded.
But to put a new Star Trek series on Spike, I'd have to make it cheaper. Now, if I were a Viacom executive, I wouldn't drop the price tag for the SciFi Channel or some network that wasn't part of the "family," but I'd lower the licensing fees for one of my own cable stations. Along with the fees, the production values would probably have to drop too, to bring in the show within budget. Under normal circumstances, that's something I'd expect fans to cry bloody murder about. "What do you mean, cheaper makeup and costumes! What do you mean, fewer special effects!"
But if I'd already CANCELLED the show, no one would be complaining, would they? Instead of saying "Oh my god what a piece of crap this show is turning into," fans would be saying, "Yay! More Enterprise!" And if even better, "WE saved the show! It was OUR phone calls and letters and money that made this happen! Go us!" When people have that kind of investment, it's less likely that they'll quit watching just because a show happens to suck: "It may be a piece of crap, but it's OUR piece of crap."
The marketing strategy would be brilliant and innovative because Paramount wouldn't have to do any work at all. The fans would do it for us. Not a cent of Viacom's money would be spent to have CNN, the Associated Press, etc. doing articles about hysterical Trekkies and the next iteration of the franchise. The media would work for Viacom, for free! Of course it helps that Viacom has its fingers in a lot of entertainment outlets already, but Paramount itself wouldn't have to take out advertising space in the L.A. Times; the fans would do that for us.
Thus, I could arrange for the broadcast of a Star Trek: Enterprise with the production values of first season Andromeda, which had a guy in a fake fur suit and an insectoid with the fakest fake head since 1950s B horror flicks. I could have the special effects department blow up little paper Enterprises every week and film it with a camcorder. I could make the show completely cheap and ugly, and through it all, I could say: "And this is what the true fans demanded!"
I'm almost sorry I'm not Les Moonves, so I could get rich in the bargain.