Exposing The Really Useful Group
March 2, 2011
In response to the following Lloyd Webber interview in which he stated he encouraged the press to expose the “masterminds” behind the LSD Campaign, Jeff & Rebecca Timmons contacted the LSD Team with a request to share their side of the story. Based on the evidence provided, the LSD Team has dedicated this page for their use. The following is a written response from the Timmonses.
In June 2010, we were contacted by a reporter from the Daily Telegraph, purportedly writing a piece on the impact of the internet (in the form of Facebook groups, blogs, forums, etc.) on marketing in the media. She was particularly interested in the 'Love Should Die' campaign, having recently seen 'Love Never Dies' (and stating she 'didn't like it and couldn't recall any of the songs'). When the article was published, it was clear that this was not at all the intent, and that we had been grossly misled, misquoted, and misrepresented. We are not now, nor have we ever been, the creators of the LSD campaign. Our positive remarks about the shows performers were notably absent. Our explanation that it was the storyline to which we objected (and with which we made certain to mention we are intimately familiar) was removed in order to paint a picture of us as uninformed, unbalanced, and obsessive fanatics.
We were dismayed when RUG quickly posted the piece on all of their social networking sites, allowing (perhaps even encouraging) their fans to write derogatory, inflammatory, offensive and even threatening remarks about us. Not about 'Love Should Die', or even those who shared our opinion and disliked the show in general - but us as two individuals.
We contacted RUG expressing our concerns. We did not request that the article be removed, as that would be unrealistic. We simply asked that they exercise the same level of care in monitoring their social media outlets for obscenity, vulgarity, and inappropriate behaviour with responses to this article as they do with every other posting on their sites. Clearly, someone had been tasked with managing this activity as any comments in our defence from those who truly knew us were quickly removed. The letter which we sent to RUG is available for your review in it's entirety, exactly as sent to their head office.
We received a reply from their CFO, Andre Ptaszynski not long after. We have had his letter in our possession since June and respected his wishes to keep it private. However, in light of recent events, and after careful consideration, we've made the decision to share it.
As per this letter, we had (perhaps foolishly) believed that RUG had treated us with enough respect to tell us the truth in regards to their involvement with the Telegraph article. In reading the recent playbill.com interview with ALW, we have now clearly seen that this is not the case. Therefore, we submit the below as evidence that, from inception, the intent of this article was to paint us as "mental" Phantom fans and scapegoats for the failure of their production of Love Never Dies.
Jeff & Rebecca Timmons
The letter to The Really Useful Group
June 15, 2010
Dear Really Useful Group:
This letter is in response to the article ‘Unmasked: The Phans haunting the Phantom Sequel’ that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, June 12th, as we were the unfortunate focus of said article. We realize you are not responsible for the content, however, our frustration is around your use of the article, and endorsement of the resulting behaviour.
We are not surprised that the article was posted on the Love Never Dies (LND) Facebook and twitter accounts, however we are stunned that the 'heated' responses were allowed to remain. The LND moderators of these sites have a history of monitoring the activity of participants and removing any offensive, defamatory, or negative remarks. Overall, we applaud this effort and think it an appropriate part of maintaining a professional social networking outlet. However, we were extremely disappointed to see that this level of consideration did not extend to the treatment of the article featuring the two of us. The responses to this were of an insulting and intensely personal nature (even threatening in some instances), aimed largely at us as people versus the Love Should Die campaign. That these remarks were allowed to remain implies that the Really Useful Group (RUG) endorses such behaviour. The fact that the article was posted multiple times on multiple RUG sites – all to similar reaction – leads us to believe that this may have been the intent in sharing the piece.
In creating a sequel to one of the most popular and beloved theatrical creations of modern times, we are certain it comes as no surprise that there would be a passionate reaction – both positive and negative – from the press, the entertainment industry, general audiences, and those who consider themselves fans (or ‘phans’, as the case may be). We have not seen theatre critics, specific publications, or professionals of the entertainment industry who have expressed a negative opinion brought forward by RUG and singled out in a manner similar to ours. These are people and entities whose profession it is to be in the public eye. We are two individuals – just ‘phans’, as you say – and we are appalled to see that we have been subjected, by the moderators of RUGs official social networking outlets, to treatment that even public and well known personalities have not endured.
For what it may or may not be worth in your eyes, we would also like to state that what was printed in the Daily Telegraph article is a gross misrepresentation of the two of us as people, and as ‘phans’. We both feel that we were extremely misled by what the reporter stated was her intention for the interview. We are not now, nor have we ever been, the ‘architects’ of the ‘Love Should Die’ campaign. You may recall that the ‘mastermind behind the campaign’ (as stated in "Mastermind behind 'guerrilla campaign' to destroy sequel emerges from dark", Sunday Times, 10 MAR 2010.) was interviewed by the press, in person, in London before the opening of Love Never Dies. Please note, we live in Toronto and have not travelled outside of North America for nearly 2 years. As we understand, the group is comprised of a dozen members worldwide, of which my we were the very last to join. We became involved when the original Facebook group was removed earlier this spring. We agreed to assist in registering a website (we believe this was how the reporter located us), because we feel that fans should have the right to state why they are dissatisfied with a piece or product.
For our own part, it must be emphasized that we have never spoken against any member of the cast or any fan of Love Never Dies. In fact, in speaking with the reporter we made certain to note that we had seen both leads of ‘Love Never Dies’ in the original production, enjoyed their performances, and found them to be very talented. Of course, this hardly makes for ‘sensational’ news and so was understandably left out of the article. Our displeasure is and always has been with the story and nothing else, a point on which we try to be very clear.
As you are likely already aware, we have been phans for nearly 20 years, since we were 11 and 12 years old, respectively. We’ve organized ‘phan’ events and gatherings (large and small) in Toronto, New York, London, and for the US Tour. We’ve promoted the show by word of mouth, websites, social networking, interviews for news articles, radio, and television – interviews which were done at the request of the company bringing in the show (i.e., Mirvish Productions, Livent, etc.). In fact, the photo of us in costume that appeared in the Daily Telegraph was for a Toronto promotion in which we were asked by the company to appear in costume. We’ve donated funds and supported the efforts of the ‘Phantom’ teams in the BC/EFA campaigns. Prior to the release of this article, we were in the midst of planning a phan gathering to celebrate the US Phantom Tour before they close this fall. After the article appeared we were contacted by numerous phans who stated they no longer wished to attend because they wanted to boycott any production from which RUG would profit. However, we reminded them that the point of the weekend was to celebrate the US Tour and to come together as a community. As we would still like to show our support to the touring cast, we advised all phans the event would proceed as planned.
None of this was ever done with the expectation of receiving any thanks or official acknowledgement. However, we cannot stress to you enough how extraordinarily disheartening it has been that, on this single occasion that we have been recognized by the RUG, it is for the instance when we have chosen to voice disagreement rather than promote and sing your praises – as we have done for the past 20 years. We sincerely hope you can appreciate why we are absolutely and completely disappointed by the actions of the company.
We respectfully request an official apology from RUG and ask that your LND moderators remove the threatening, offensive, and derogatory remarks about us, posted on the LND Facebook page.
Jeff & Rebecca Timmons
Andre Ptaszynski, CFO of the Really Useful Group, responded with this letter:
If you are appalled by these tactics, we urge you to write to RUG and THE TELEGRAPH, and any other media outlets you see fit.
22 Tower Street
Letters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (Daily Telegraph) or email@example.com (Sunday Telegraph). Please include name, address, and work and home telephone numbers.
We also urge you to bring this shameful activity to as many people as possible. We need your support more than ever. And we’re proud of Mr Timmons and Mrs Timmons.
- LSD Team 2011.
Love Should Die © 2010 All rights reserved. LSD logo images are recreations and breach no Intellectual Property Rights of RUG Ltd.