AMC Forces Name Change for EVIL DEAD's 'WALKING DEAD' Viewing Parties
Recently Stephen Colbert dubbed the Super Bowl "The Superb Owl" and continued to talk about the game that businesses and other places have been referring to "The Big Game". This is due to copyright restrictions and a myriad of concerns regarding parties, the Super Bowl being used to promote things that the NFL never agreed to, etc.
And now it looks like the undead have fallen into this trap. WALKING DEAD, the hit drama on cable television's AMC, is returning with the 2nd half of its 4th season this Sunday, February 9th. As with each new set of episodes that has come prior to this one, the WALKING DEAD Viewing Parties will be alive and well in Sin City, hosted by EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL. However, because of copyright issues, the name "WALKING DEAD" as well as any artwork reflecting any aspect of the show is required to be removed from all advertising and outreach.
AMC's zombies prey on the blood and flesh of the living while their lawyers prey on the joy of their fans. While AMC acknowledges the parties in fact are good for the show and they are happy the events are happening, their hands are tied because of the cast number of individuals and companies involved in getting the show to the small screen.
Individual actors have representatives who want them being compensated for any use of their likeness (memes must drive them crazy!), the writers of the comic book have their own concerns with the WALKING DEAD brand being used to promote things they have no control over (who can blame them after the eagerly-anticipated and yet ultimately derided SURVIVAL INSTINCT?), the television show's producers have an agenda regarding the show and how they want it promoted (a brand new Hyundai in every episode!), and on and on. It is unfortunate that, because of all of these agendas, there is little room for fans to come together in a public place, call the viewing parties by what they are, and have the television show get behind them.
Much more than many other shows on television, WALKING DEAD has a strong tie to its fans, and it would make sense for the creators of the show to encourage people to get together and watch it each week in large groups. Anyone remember LOST parties when that show was on? But even if they would like to, there are simply too many hands and lawyers involved to make it such a simple matter.
Playing new episodes of television shows is nothing new in public places, and making events out of those airings have been going on since the first soap opera hit the first 5" tv set, but ultimately it is up to the companies behind these shows to decide what course of action is best for them. And in this case, AMC has come to the conclusion that they can't allow anyone the use of THE WALKING DEAD title or imagery in conjunction with public Viewing Parties.
"We enjoy hosting these parties," says director and producer of EVIL DEAD, Sirc Michaels, "And no one involved thought we were doing anything wrong. In fact, we reached out to AMC over a year ago about getting involved in the parties here in Las Vegas. Back then they turned down our offer to become directly involved, but they never brought up any concerns with our having them or using the name WALKING DEAD or the show's imagery in the first place."
While the cast of EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL serve as the hosts for these viewing parties, the events are put together by a cooperation of businesses and individuals who all happen to be fans of the show, such as EVIL DEAD THE MUSICL, COSMIC COMICS, FAT BEARD STUDIOS, THE END, ZOMBIEN NATION, and THE 80s KIDS.
AMC has given permission to the group to continue to host the parties and to show the episodes, but no longer can they use the name of the show or images of its characters to promote the events.
For now the parties are being dubbed "The #1 Zombie Drama on TV Viewing Parties". This name may seem very generic - and there is a reason for it.
Starting this Sunday, fans will be able to submit, nominate, and vote on what the parties should ultimately be called. The new name for the parties will be revealed at the Season 4 Finale, where the person who submitted the winning name will receive a prize package.
"These parties have always been about more than just the television show," says Sirc Michaels, "And even though it is a small headache to have to change the name of the events, it gives fans and attendees the chance to take ownership of them."
His suggestion for a name?
"I've always been partial to Sunday Night ZombieCon myself, but I doubt that'll go anywhere."