All For The Fans

When the promos for Prison Break started to hit magazines and televisions, my obsession began to grow.  Premiering in 2005, Prison Break followed Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) who had recently learned that his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) was sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit.  As a last resort, Scofield devises a plan to break his brother out of Fox River State Penitentiary by getting himself locked in with him.  The show ran for four seasons, including a shortened third season thanks to the writers’ strike.  If you have yet to get into this series, I strongly urge you to do so and I’ll let you thank me later.  I was, and still partially am, borderline obsessed with this show.  Want proof?

Michael Scofield’s tattoo (part of his plan to break his brother out):

My tattoo:

I cried like a toddler when the show wrapped, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to hear that Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora, two of Prison Break’s writers and producers, had a new project in the works:  Breakout Kings.  The show is centered around a group of convicts who assist U.S. Marshals Charlie DuChamp (Laz Alonzo) and Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi) in catching escaped convicts.  At first, I expected many similarities between Breakout Kings and Prison Break, but in all honesty the only true similarity in story is that in both shows, someone breaks out of prison.  Outside of that, the storylines couldn’t be more different, especially given that Prison Break’s story is serialized over the course of the season whereas Breakout Kings wraps each episode nicely with the backstories being the only thing that carry over.  Characters on both are incredibly dynamic and relatable and the writers manage to keep even the savviest viewer on edge.

The brilliance of the writers can be described in many ways, but I’d like focus on one character for a moment; Theodore Bagwell, AKA T-Bag (Robert Knepper).  T-Bag was a main character in Prison Break and was featured in an episode of Breakout Kings (which I watched half a dozen times at least).  T-Bag is a product of rape and incest who is guilty of assault, murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, and is possibly a pedophile.  As Nick Santora stated in an interview, “He’s the only rapist-murderer that was ever popular on a TV show.”  He is my favorite character on Prison Break and I am forever grateful to Santora for allowing T-Bag to break out of Fox River one more time.

When I discovered that Santora was on Twitter (@NickSantora), I naturally began following him along with Jimmi Simpson (@jimmisimpson), Serinda Swan(@SwanSerinda), and Domenick Lombardozzi (@D_Lombardozzi) from Breakout Kings.  Both Santora and Lombardozzi impressed me right off the bat with their frequent fan interactions; they were always willing to take the time to respond to a question or comment or to retweet something from a fan.  Recently, I found out that Nick Santora had written a book, Fifteen Digits, that was available for preorder AND if you showed proof of payment to Santora, he would send you a gift.  On Amazon I went, emailed my receipt to Santora, and TWO DAYS later, I got this:

A script of literally one of my favorite episodes of Prison Break, personally signed by Mr. Nick Santora, mailed to my home in record time!  I feel as though I cheated him on this deal; I get what is looking to me a fantastic book plus a piece of history with my name on it.  A few fans tweeted their photos as well and Santora took the time to write everyone’s name plus a different message for each fan.  I was expecting nothing more than his name, so to see that he took the time to write something out that directly applied to me (I harass him frequently on Twitter about his work) was a total thrill.

To me, Nick Santora is the type of person more celebrities should strive to be like.  He understands that without the fans tuning into The Guardian and Law & Order a few years back, Lie To Me more recently, or my favorite shows here, he wouldn’t have shows to write for or produce.  He knows that if no one wants to read Slip And Fall or Fifteen Digits, those books won’t do much more than collect dust on various store shelves and warehouses.  Rather than pick and choose a few random things from fans to respond to, he takes the time out of his busy schedule to give fans thoughtfelt answers and to develop somewhat of a camaraderie with fans he interacts with on a somewhat regular basis.  There have been days I’ve seen him do nothing but go through his timeline and hand out Thank You’s to those who have supported his work.

Reaching the point where you are successful and have achieved some level of fame has got to be a great feeling.  Sadly, I think that for a lot of people, reaching that point means forgetting about us little folk who helped make it happen.  For some fans, it would mean more than the world to them to get a simple hello from the artist they admire; simply having that interaction is greater than gold.  Santora not only understands that, but goes above and beyond as though his goal is to exceed your expectations in every way he possibly can.

My first reaction after getting the script and exchanging a few words with Santora on Twitter was to log onto his site again and write him a thank you letter.  After some thought, I decided to post on here in the hopes that a few people will be moved to familiarize themselves with his work, or if they are already familiar, take the time to get to know the man behind it.  He’s one of those rare people who is as complex and engaging as his work.  Even rarer, he remains somewhat humble about his accomplishments, something I would like to think I’d be able to do, except I already know that if I had even a small part in Prison Break or Breakout Kings, that is how I would introduce myself;  Jamie from Prison Break/Breakout Kings, nice to meet you.

Hop on IMDB and look him up, preorder Fifteen Digits, follow him on Twitter, catch up on Breakout Kings season 1 so you can be ready for the second season in March, do what you can to familiarize yourself with this man.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to shake his hand and thank him properly, but until then I’ll be more than content with my signed script which I plan on framing and hanging next to my custom painting of Scofield and Burrows.  Nick Santora, you freaking made my decade.  Thank you.


About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on January 26, 2012, in TV/Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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