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Fans Rally to Save a Show That’s Not Even a Show (Yet)

Author Jen Weiner urging readers to lobby ABC on behalf of her script ”Jane and Dick“

Forget about saving "Chuck" or praying for the resurrection of "Moonlight": One group of fans is trying to rally support for a show that doesn’t even exist yet.

Novelist Jennifer Weiner ("Good in Bed") last week issued a call to arms, asking readers of her female-friendly fiction to lobby ABC to greenlight a pilot for her comedy script with Michael Reisz, "Jane and Dick." The "Ally McBeal" -esque one-hour dramedy, from "Ghost Whisperer" producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses, has been in the works at the network since last year.

With the networks now right in the thick of pilot pickups — ABC has already greenlit a number of projects — Weiner urged readers of her books to e-mail ABC expressing their support for her script via a simple message: "I want Weiner." An online petition also sprung up on behalf of the potential pilot.

So far, about 3300 people have signed the petition. ABC isn’t commenting, so there’s no word on how many folks have e-mailed the network.

Weiner, however, is still trying to get one key reader to commit.

"I e-mailed my Nanna last night to plead for her signature, with the plan of impressing the network with my vast influence among the coveted 90-and-over demographic," Weiner wrote. "So far? Nanna hasn’t signed. I’m not taking it personally."

Fan campaigns on behalf of struggling series are old hat by now, of course. And while network suits will tell you such movements ultimately play a tiny role in pickup decisions, they certainly didn’t hurt "Chuck" or "Jericho."

But it’s hard to recall many examples of viewers urging a network to give a greenlight to a script. It helps that Weiner already has a built-in fan base from her series of novels; the online campaign seems to be a means of reminding ABC that the project might already have a core audience ready to rally behind it.

While I Want Weiner is one of the most organized efforts to help a show not yet on the air, it’s becoming a bit more common for fans to rally around the concept of a series before it ever airs.

Last summer, for example, followers of "The Vampire Diaries" series of books were all over the Internet expressing their love for the CW’s TV spinoff months before it debuted. Likewise, there are already websites devoted to HBO’s "Game of Thrones," the sci-fi adventure that is currently still just a pilot (though will almost certainly go to series).

In the end, ABC chief Steve McPherson’s final verdict on "Jane and Dick" will rest on whether he likes the script and thinks it has potential as a series.

But getting possible fans worked up in advance? It can’t hurt.