Into the Breach: If Only She'd Use Her Powers for Good and Not Evil
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2000
Subject: Whoosh! Editorial Response
Over the past two weeks I have seen a lot of reaction to your editorial "Where's Lucy Lawless?" Some of it was directed to me privately, much of it was hashed out on the mailing lists and the NetForum. I would like to make a few comments and correct a few misconceptions about what Sword and Staff is and how it goes about doing what it does.
Sword and Staff is not a charity. It is what is termed a "clearinghouse," raising funds for a particular charity and forwarding those funds off in the name of the fans. Checks are made payable directly to the charity, never S&S. We are not associated with any fan group or website (except our own).
S&S sponsors online auctions and other fan events as means of generating donations to charities around the world. We also provide autographed items to registered charities, fan clubs, fest committees, and individuals to help them raise funds in their own charity events. The items we auction and supply are obtained from individual fans and fan clubs. The donation can be earmarked for a specific charity, or the donor will often say to use it as we see fit. The donated items include X:WP memorabilia, fan fiction, magazines, art, and a number of other Xena related materials. Fans also send autographed photographs that they get from autograph dealers, the ebay and amazon.com auction sites, and from the cast members themselves at conventions and other venues. These donations are very generous and often quite expensive, and they continue to illustrate the giving nature of Xena fans.
Most of the autographed photos and trading cards we auction or donate are obtained when I write to the individual cast member (or his or her fan club or agent) on behalf of S&S and ask if they would sign articles for our auctions. Those requests are sent with a cover letter explaining who we are and what we do. I include articles for them to sign (photographs, trading or game cards, scripts) with the request. The cast member's agent, representative, or fan club will forward the items on to the actor, and the items are then autographed and returned to Sword and Staff. Several times, we've been contacted directly by the actors or their fan clubs and offered items for our auctions. In those instances, they've supplied the autographed items that were sent. Fans also donate cast member autographs they've gotten at conventions. This is tougher with Lucy Lawless because she doesn't appear often at conventions and doesn't sign autographs when she does, so the only means of getting her autograph is through her representatives or to buy them.
I have approached Lucy's representatives (Sharon Delaney, Sue May, Leah Krantzler, and George Strayton) asking if it would be possible to get donations of autographed items for Sword and Staff auctions. That is nothing different from what I've done with every other cast member from whom I've requested autographs. At no time was I abusive, nor did I act unprofessionally. I did nothing unusual by requesting some autographed glossies from Lucy for charity auctions. It is how Sword and Staff operates, and it has never been an issue for any cast member (any and all of whom are free to say no). To date, I have had no success getting any donations from Lucy's representatives for Sword and Staff.
In large measure, this issue arises from the fact that Lucy Lawless autographs are not available to the average fan. Her autographs are a rare commodity because they are not sold or distributed for sale by Creation Entertainment. Add to that the fact that Lucy doesn't have a fan club to provide that service and accommodate fan requests for autographs and photos, and the result is a large number of fans clamoring for what few autographs are available.
Reputable autograph dealers were selling Lucy Lawless autographs for about $50. In the past I have taken that route to get LL autographs for S&S, and the dealer was kind enough to discount the pictures when he learned how the autographs were being used. Likewise, individual fans have sent autographed Lucy Lawless photographs that they have acquired at their own considerable expense from dealers and other auction sites so that Sword and Staff could use them in its auctions. But Lawless fans and autograph dealers are now facing a different problem that adds a new dimension to the challenge of finding a signed photo. Sad truth is that forgeries abound. Far too many fans have been ripped off by unscrupulous autograph vendors and by sellers on ebay and amazon.com who have flooded the autograph market with forged Lucy Lawless autographs. The only place to buy and be assured of authentic autographs is from Creation. And the only way to get a Lucy Lawless autograph from them is to bid on one in one of their ebay auctions where those items pull about $500-$600 for a single Lawless autograph. That is prohibitive, so for the average fan, fan groups, charities, and Sword and Staff the problem is the same-they all have very little chance of acquiring one.
Sword and Staff cannot risk passing on forged autographs, and neither Sword and Staff donors nor I can afford to continue to pay for signatures, especially as they now cost upwards of $500 each. Given that, I approached Sue May and George Strayton this past summer because my requests to Creation over the past two years were either denied or ignored. I pursued what I saw as the next logical step in asking for autographs-the publicists and marketing people. I wrote to Sue May who sent me back to Sharon Delaney. I called Leah Krantzler some time back and she sent me to Sharon Delaney. George Strayton did not respond to my email or to my telephone call. At that point, I pretty much gave up. That is why Lucy's name wasn't listed in the Sword and Staff Year in Review. There was no attempt to embarrass her, "blackmail" her into contributing to Sword and Staff, or to "extort" donations. At no time have I done anything that could be construed as being disrespectful or coercive. Her name wasn't on the list of donors because at no time did I get anything from her representatives that would allow me to list her there. I asked for autographs for charity auctions. I didn't get them. It was that simple. As for the future, Sword and Staff will continue to do what we do, and we will solicit those autographs that we can acquire for charity auction. We've done pretty well so far, and I hope to see us continue to grow and make a difference where we can.
I can only say that it's obvious your editorial ruffled a lot of feathers. A good part of that is because you approached issues that have long been a thorn in the side of a large segment of the Xena fan base, issues for which no answers have been forthcoming. This isn't about "dissing" Lucy. It never was. I hope fans will keep their eye on the ball and remember that you are entitled to an opinion and to ask questions, be it about Lucy, Lucy's reps, Sword and Staff, Hindu groups trying to force the removal of an episode, or whatever other issues you choose to address. It is not my place to censor what you write or tell you how to think, even when your comments include Sword and Staff.
Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2000
Wow, your editorial was pretty hard on LL. There may be all sorts of reasons that LL's name isn't on the list. Charities that a person contributes to is a private and personal matter and lambasting someone publically about it is below the belt in my humble opinion. How about a little personal charity on your part? I'm a big Whoosh fan, but that piece was disappointing.
Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2000 11:33 PM
Subject: New Year
Nothing like starting off the New Year with a bang! I'm perusing my onelist posts and Flawless is on fire. Of course, I don't believe what they are saying... You've been too good of supporter and I feel, a rather caring person (you always answer my posts(g)). Anyway, I read your editorial and figure you have a point and a story not told. I think the comments made by the List concerning Creation have some merit... plus I know Sharon is a pretty tough lady to get by...
Anyway, for what it's worth... an editorial is just that... an opinion.'course, I'd love to know the backround for the piece in the first place. But whatever...
Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2000 6:51 PM
Subject: Editorial - Whoosh
I'm sure by now that your email folder is over flowing with comments on your editorial. And i'll wager you are wondering whether you said or did the right thing for publishing that particular piece on the Whoosh website.
Everyone has personal opinions and all are within their rights to have them, however whoosh is seen as a forum for fan opinion and as such i was quite horrifed to see your comments.
That was a blantant personal attack on Lucy Lawless, in it you wrote
"It is really easy. All she needs do is just not embarrass her fans by not appearing on a list like that list of cast members and guest stars of Xena mentioned above. "
Well this is really easy as well please don't use the popularity of your site or profess to speak for the majority of Xena fans by making such comments.
It is one thing to say it would have been nice to seen Lucy's name among the list and leave it like that. Another to all but blackmail the star into acknowledging such a statement.
Nobody is forcing you to support the show or S&S, if you are not happy then just don't do it.
I'm sure that Lucy had other things sch as the pregnancy and birth of her son to worry about. Not to mention of course the charities she supports in her home country.
I used to recommend Whoosh to friends interested in the show as and excellent well run site. However until you publish and apology for such an attack then i will no longer be visiting or recommending.
From: Sandy Brown
Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2000 7:28 AM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Regarding your letter concerning LL's lack of support for "The Sword and Staff". It took a lot of guts - and I for one applaud you. You're gonna get flamed - and I suspect you already knew that - but speaking your mind and truth is worth it.
From: cherry-ann tan
Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2000 7:17 PM
Subject: Where is Lucy Lawless?
I'm COMPLETELY appalled by your editorial "Where is Lucy Lawless?" EXCUSE ME??? I know that you have a right to your own opinion but what you are basically saying in your editorial is LUCY SHOULD DONATE TO SWORD and STAFF. This is in no way to offend this great organization. This is about the way you have made Lucy sound like an arrogant, selfish person. Lucy has contributed in other ways outside of the show (the children's hospital, a dance troupe in NZ, giving hope to a blind child, and more that fans are probably not aware of). Was it ever considered that she may not be aware of this organization? I know it sounds far-fetched but have some compassion PLEASE. I'm sorry if I'm starting to sound offensive but I've been totally offended by this editorial. If I was Lucy I would be offended... who has the right to tell me where I should contribute my money??? It's as if the editorial is saying that Lucy should donate because she is the star of the show... WHY IS SWORD&STAFF raising money again??? Isn't it to help less fortunate people? Why should they care who contributes? The organization is not about getting attention. So Gillian Anderson has contributed... Good for her but SO WHAT??? Is that any reason why Lucy should be treated like a villain? If I was not a fan of the show or Lucy, I would probably conclude just one thing from the editorial... that Lucy is a SNOB... which is totally NOT TRUE. But that is what your editorial says. It's lacking compassion, and it's lacking respect. Respect for Lucy and her rights to donate to the charities she sees she wants to donate to. I am thoroughly ashamed of Whoosh... and very sorry to say it. If there has been any negative comments about Lucy, this has to top it and again, I'm very very disgusted.
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