Explainer: 4 Twitter feeds that could be shows
The CBS sitcom inspired by a Twitter feed, "$#*! My Dad Says," may not have gotten good reviews but its ratings are just fine, easily beating the Emmy-winning "30 Rock" when it debuted Sept. 23. So it was only slightly surprising that just a week after "Dad's" premiere, the network committed to a pilot for another Twitter-based show.
While not nearly as popular (19,000 followers compared to "Dad's" 1,750,000), "Shh! Don't Tell Steve" has the backing of TV mini-mogul Ashton Kutcher, who's no Twitter slouch himself (almost six million followers). The biggest logistical problem for this show may be continuing to keep it a secret from Steve when his tweeting roommate has meetings with network execs.
But the move shows an almost shockingly serious interest in turning 140-character messages into half-hour blocks of TV. So what's next? Well, with user accounts over 100 million, there's a lot to choose from, but it's likely the next Tweet Shows will look something like these:
Sockington the cat is the most popular non-human creature on Twitter, with 1.5 million followers, inspiring tens of thousands of people to tweet as their pets. It captures the essence of felinity without turning into Garfield or a LOLCAT.
But Sockington's "owner" (do you ever really own a cat?), Jason Scott, is reluctant to capitalize on the feline's fame. Either that, or Sockington has vetoed everything but T-shirts.
There's little about Jason (aka "Fatty") or other humans in Sockington's feed ("shhhh and now sockington mystery tours takes you to the cave of the sleeping fatty NOTE STRANGE NOISES AND TWITCHING agg he's waking up run"), so "The Sockington Show" might be hard to sell to any network besides Animal Planet.
Still, voice casting could be fun. It could be a great second show for an already active star, and the cat could be anyone from Ed O'Neill to Neil Patrick Harris to Tina Fey. (Hey, are we sure Sockington is male?)
Another all-too-common Twitter meme is the fake celebrity account, usually parodying the celeb's public persona. They're best when taking a larger than life character and exaggerating it an extra 1,000 percent.
In that vein, the Chuck Norris Facts meme was already well established on the web (and begrudgingly approved by Chuck himself), so there have been many versions of Chuck at Twitter, mostly putting the funny facts into the first person. But well after most others have given up the joke, @fakechucknorris keeps tweeting — and he's honest enough to admit that he's fake.
That opens up the possibility for a show about a Chuck Norris impersonator, legitimate or not (fake might be more fun) occasionally crossing paths with the Real Chuck (making cameo appearances) and generally failing to live up to his namesake's reputation.
This looks like a job for the producers of "My Name Is Earl" to get an appropriately off-kilter feel. And there are a lot of comic actors who could look kind of like Norris with the right beard, but a severely trimmed Zach Galifianakis could be ideal. USA Network would really live up to its "Characters Welcome" slogan with this, or TV Land could bask in the "Walker: Texas Ranger" nostalgia.
Nearly all the most popular tweeters are people famous for something else, so with nearly 400,000 followers, Tim Siedell (aka @badbanana) is a true phenomenon. Even more so when you consider he wasn't even trying to become famous when he started tweeting his random wisecracks.
His popularity is purely based on his quirky but perceptive sense of humor. How perceptive? He tweeted, "Lady Gaga's birthday is Sunday. I sent her a box of Omaha Steaks thinking she could make an outfit out of them" months before her VMA appearance.
So who IS this guy? (Clue: That's not his picture on Twitter, that's advertising legend David Ogilvy) Siedell runs a "brand communications studio," NOT in New York, but in Lincoln, Neb. Population: about half his Twitter followers.
A 2010 "Mad Man" in the Midwest? Sounds like a sitcom pitch to me. But the "equally distant from both coasts" viewing point is a big part of his appeal. And since he keeps his real life as private as it can be in 2010, this allows his character to be anything he and the producers would want.
If Will Arnett ever wants to play a smart character, this is one banana stand he could run. And which network would" The Bad Banana" run? Any one that airs comedies. Let the bidding wars begin!
There are tons of Twitter accounts for fictional characters — some fan-based, some satirical — but one of the few that stands alone is $#*! My Darth Says, which mashes up "Star Wars" with the already sitcomized "$#*! My Dad Says." In an alternate universe, REALLY far far away, Luke Skywalker and his Sith Lord dad end up sharing an apartment and he starts tweeting.
Check out these sample tweets:
"I dunno whether to feel angry or flattered by Steve Jobs modeling his entire personal style on 'Helmetless Vader.' "
"Started using Foursquare, and there went another Death Star."
Considering how good a sport George Lucas has been about "Star Wars" spoofs from "Robot Chicken" and "Family Guy," this show could easily happen on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim or FX. And 30-plus years after "A New Hope," why not let Mark Hamill be a cranky old Vader, with a Disney Channel alumnus like Zac Efron as Luke?
Craig Wittler is a media writer in central California.
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