Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Alisa Perren

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Fuller-Seeley

Third Advisor

Dr. Natalie Tindall

Abstract

From a media industries, fan studies, and emerging socio-cultural public relations perspective, this project pulls back the Hollywood curtain to explore two questions: 1) How do TV public relations practitioners and key tastemaker/gatekeeper media define, create, build, and maintain fandom?; and 2) How do they make meaning of fandom and their agency/role in fan creation from their position of industrial producers, cultural intermediaries, members of the audience, and as fans themselves? This project brings five influential, working public relations and media professionals into a conversation about two case studies from the 2010-2011 television season – broadcast network CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 and basic cable network AMC’s The Walking Dead. Each of these shows speaks to fandom in particular ways and are representative of the industry’s current approaches in luring specific audiences to TV. This study shows that the relationship between entertainment publicists and media is dynamic, intertwined, complex, and historically hidden.

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