Welcome to the NATPE 7 history page. My name is Diane Echelbarger and a long time ago (Wednesday,January 24, 1996, to be exact) I became, more-or-less accidentally, the Fearless Leader of the SOS-FK NATPE Strike Force, AKA The NATPE Seven.




The Background

I'll start at the beginning. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a wonderful television show called Forever Knight was half-way through production of its third season, financed jointly by Columbia/TriStar and the USA network. It had a mailing list, a fan fiction website and lots and lots of loyal fans. And on Saturday, December 16th, 1995, the mailing list was informed that the show might not be renewed for a fourth season. In a matter of days, members of the mailing list had coordinated with fellow-fans on various other on-line services to start a mail campaign to save the show.

On December 21, worse news hit, from the producer, James Parriott, himself-- USA had pulled funding for the remainder of third season. Forever Knight was officially dead.

But this was a show about vampires. And the fans had already brought it back from the dead once before. We weren't about to give up without a fight.

An inside source told us we had until February-- basically one month-- to make a difference; that there was still a chance the show would be renewed if it pulled a "2" in the Nielsen ratings sweeps. We (and by "we" I mean everyone involved in the SOS-FK effort, not just the Seven) expanded the letter writing campaign. We wrote to USA, to TriStar, to the local stations, and to the sponsors. We sent cookie bouquets to Jon Feltenheimer at TriStar, lottery tickets to Rod Perth at USA, spread the word as far and fast as we could-- and, to insure that some good would come out of our efforts, regardless of the fate of Forever Knight, we started a charity drive to raise money for The Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a favorite charity of the star of Forever Knight, Geraint Wyn Davies. (We raised over $5,000 for pediatric AIDS research by January 17, 1996, and more than $10,000 overall. But that's another story.)

Fairly early on, someone suggested we should take advantage of the fact that the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) was having its annual convention in Las Vegas in late January. The earliest note I can find is dated 12/24/95. At that point, no one was talking about going to NATPE-- just about placing an ad where the people who did go would see it.

Then someone suggested we pass out pencils. And wouldn't flyers be a good idea? I got involved because I offered to find out how much customized pencils/pens would be. Next thing I knew, I was coordinating the NATPE phase of the Save Forever Knight campaign.

On January 10, 1996, the tidal wave of support for the show (and some pressure from the overseas distributors who wanted more Forever Knight, too) got us the rest of third season. After that, we concentrated all our efforts on convincing TriStar to produce a fourth season.

We rounded up seven volunteers and got prices and designs for the bags we were going to give away. (We decided on bags because everyone there would have lots of free stuff they'd have to carry, thus showing off the bags.) Several Forever Knight fans with experience in public relations, advertising, and graphic design put together a very professional looking brochure for us to hand out; other fans printed the brochure for us. We even created business cards for the volunteers.

We requested donations to help pay for all of this from fans on the FORKNI-L list, on the posting boards on AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy, on the newsgroups, at conventions, and too many other places to list here. I still have the file of "pledges" from fans who donated $5, $10, $20, $50, up to $750 apiece to help buy the bags, print the brochures, and pay for the ad (we Seven paid all our personal expenses ourselves). Enough people wrote us a check (most donations were for $50 or less) to cover the more than $8000 in costs, on our bare word that we would do what we promised-- try to convince TriStar Pictures to continue production of Forever Knight.

Somewhere between having the suggestion that "Someone should go to NATPE" posted on the FORKNI-L mailing list and actually arriving in Las Vegas, we seven got dubbed The FK-NATPE Strike Force, a.k.a. "The NATPE Seven". This series of pages tells the story of what we did in Las Vegas, and the aftereffects.

I've put these pages up because now, two years after the fact, some people are spreading false information about what we did, what we saw, and who we were. So this is my way of setting the record straight. All the information on these pages is first-hand information, from those of us who were there when (so I'm told) we made industry history by almost convincing a major television show producer to change its mind. Consider it a lesson on what ordinary people can do when they care enough to try to "put right what once went wrong", as another television series once put it.



By January 22, 1996, the preparation was done. We had thousands of bags and brochures on their way to Las Vegas, we had press releases and business cards, hotel reservations, plane tickets (for those of us not within driving distance), carpool plans (for the folks from L.A.), and even official Friends Of Forever Knight ID pins. We had the moral and emotional support of hundreds of fans just like us who weren't about to let a great show like Forever Knight die. Now all we needed to do was get to Las Vegas and brave corporate executives, convention security, and network moguls on their own turf. And after putting all that work into pulling it together, we weren't about to give up without a fight.



Who were (are) the NATPE Seven?

Ordinary women who believed, in essence, that it wasn't yet time for Forever Knight to end and decided to do something about it. I'm a disability examiner for the State of Wisconsin. Toni Holm is a radio station owner in Washington state. Cherri Munoz is an electrical engineer in Los Angeles. Angela Lai is a grad student at UCLA; Catherine Boone is also a graduate student, at the University of Wyoming. Dianne DeSha is a Technical Editor who lives in Washington, DC. Debbie Litchman is-- Debbie Litchman.

For the two days we spent in Las Vegas, I'm going to quote from the reports we posted to FORKNI-L and other sources from right after the event. Any additions or clarifications I make will be enclosed in [brackets] so you know exactly what's what. And I've taken pity on those of us with slow browsers and made most of the photographs links instead of imbeding them. Move on to the next page for a chronology of that hectic 48 hours.


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