By CBS News' Michele Filgate
Jeff Braverman has seen a lot of nuts in his life, but that doesn't stop nutty behavior from surprising and even inspiring him.
Last week, Braverman's family-owned business, NutsOnline, started receiving a lot of attention from fans of "Jericho" after CBS announced its fall lineup — and the drama wasn't on it. "Jericho" is set in a small town in Kansas that's struggling to deal with the aftershocks of witnessing a nuclear attack. CBS executives are now the targets of a different kind of "attack" from the show's loyal viewers.
There was a lot of discussion on online message boards and radio shows, where disgruntled fans banded together with a single idea: Why not send nuts to CBS officials in Los Angeles and New York to protest the cancellation? The idea came from a reference in the final episode to a historic moment during World War II, when U.S. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe said "Nuts" in response to Germans demanding that Americans surrender.
So far, more than 18,000 pounds of nuts, worth $24,000, have been ordered online for the grassroots effort. Braverman's blog on the company's Web site tracks the amount of nuts ordered and money spent. It changes each time you refresh the page.
"This is beyond my wildest imagination," Braverman says, noting that the blog he constantly updates has shown the fans he cares about their cause.
Braverman took it a step further by delivering 1,000 pounds of nuts himself, showing up at the network's New York headquarters in his "nut-mobile" to coincide with an additional delivery of 4,000 pounds of protest nuts.
"Jericho" fan Jeff Knoll helped coordinate with Braverman to get Nuts Online to serve as a distributor. Knoll was one of the originators of the campaign, and his biggest hope is that the network pays attention.
"What we're trying to do in this campaign is prove that the fan base is massive," Knoll says. "The people who are into the show are really, really into the show. We're talking 'Star Trek'-style into the show."
Knoll hopes that CBS will give the show a chance to air at a time other than against "American Idol." He believes that the show could flourish in another time slot.
The Canadian-based fan fell in love with "Jericho" because of the premise. He is intrigued by the idea of emergency management; one of his jobs is working as a town councilor. Knoll also rarely watches television, but says he couldn't help getting hooked on the program.
"I was completely swept away by the story, by the uniqueness of the program, by the intelligence of the program," Knoll says.
CBS officials say they've noticed the efforts by Braverman and the show's fans, but that there are no plans to bring back the show.
"It's been an impressive display of passion from a loyal audience," says senior vice president of communications Chris Ender. "You have to tip your hat to their ability to get attention and make some noise."
Ender says this is the biggest campaign CBS has ever seen using digital means to protest a show cancellation. He estimates more than 30,000 e-mails have been sent to the Audience Services Line.
CBS plans to give the bulk of the peanuts to Staten Island Project Homefront, and is in talks with the Bronx Zoo as well as local food banks and homeless shelters, Ender says.
The president of CBS Entertainment, Nina Tassler, issued a statement last week in which she expresses sympathy towards the fans.
"In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide a closure to the compelling drama that was the 'Jericho' story," the statement says.
"Jericho" has at least one more fan because of all the attention in recent weeks: Braverman himself anticipates watching episodes online when he gets more time. "I'm very eager to watch this, and I think remarkably because of this effort, so many people are going to get on board and watch this," Braverman says.