October 19th, 2009
11:38 AM ET

'Find The Good' - ready for prime time?

If you don't like the trend in prime-time programming this week, don't blame your friendly neighborhood "Find The Good" blogger.  Of course, if you do like it, I'll take the credit.  I'll explain.

Remember when NBC did a "Green Week," throwing environmental messages into a bunch of its prime-time shows?  Well, get ready for "iParticipate," the brainchild of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which bills itself as Hollywood's leading charity organization.  As part of the initiative, the EIF has gotten all four major broadcast networks and other channels to "shine a spotlight on the power of service."

Yep, volunteerism storylines will be bustin' out all over this week, as more than 60 shows, from "30 Rock" to "CSI: Miami" to "So You Think You Can Dance," are "infused with inspirational volunteer messages," as the EIF puts it.  It's a follow-up to the EIF's very successful Stand Up To Cancer campaign, which has raised more than $100 million.

Now, obviously the goal is laudable, and your local "Find The Good" guy would hardly criticize such a well-meaning effort.  But it seems to me the success or failure of the initiative will depend in large part on how well the shows integrate the sermons.  For something like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," it's a natural fit, but scripted comedies and dramas could be tougher.  If viewers are irritated instead of impressed or moved, I don't think they're likely to take the volunteerism message to heart.

So what do you think?  Is it appropriate to put well-intentioned, non-partisan messages into entertainment programming?  Should a show be criticized if it doesn't want to join such an effort?  And, most importantly, I'd like to hear this week what you think about how it went.  Which shows pulled it off, and which ones flopped?

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Debra R

    Sarah: if you would look it up you will see that the more "left handed" people give LESS than "right handed" people...what interests me is that you "left handers" have to put your affiliation out there for all to see.
    Extreme Home Makeover is a wonderfull example of how they will not allow this kind of stuff to get in the way....all are welcomed

    October 20, 2009 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sarah in Alaska

    think it's a GREAT idea if it inspires just a couple of people! Of course, it might also BE partisan by its very nature... do gooders are generally left handed!

    October 19, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Debra R

    ...As long as they can keep their politics out of it.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kim

    My humble opinion is that people who volunteer are inclined to do it with or without this kind of motivation. People who don't volunteer, won't... even if prodded by their favorite show. But one can hope that this kind of trickle down message can have an effect. It's a proven fact that individuals can make a huge difference in our world just by doing one little thing... each week. So I say... don't wait to be prodded by your favorite show. At the same time... I applaud these shows for volunteering to make a difference! Hooray!!! Just jump in! You can and will make a difference.

    October 19, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    The idea is a very good one. I believe that the messages should be linked to a specific issue which the show can amplify. If you want folks to volunteer then use the script to move the audience to action...there are numerous kinds of situations in both comedy and drama where a well placed, strategically developed message about volunteering would work. I hope you take the time to get it right. Don't use the easy stuff...take a moment and find the right fit..in every show there is that moment when it could work...

    October 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. YMoreno

    It's about time we have some "Find the Good" announcements. There is so much negative these days that we forget that there is ALWAYS good to be found if we just look for it. I believe that sincerely! It is refreshing to know others believe this as well. Good JOB!

    October 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Southern boy

    Heck yes it's appropriate. I get your point that it doesn't just matter that the messages are there - it matters that they are delivered well.
    But honestly, whether the messages are delivered perfectly or not - EVERYONE should volunteer.

    The plain fact of the matter is that, no matter where you live, there are people who live nearby who need your help. What did you think - Kids who struggle with homework have too many mentors? We have too many older people flooded with volunteers offering to help them with things that aren't easy for them anymore? The neighborhood food pantries are overflowing with donations?
    If this is how anyone sees the world, I invite you to get out to I Participate or Create The Good (www.createthegood.com ) and witness all the things that volunteers could be doing, right in your hometown. Then dive in and do good. It will not only make you feel better about yourself but it may open your eyes to the reality that way too many of our neighbors are coping with.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paulie

    Short, well thought out and meaningful snippets .... perhaps even showing the ripple effect of doing good, might inspire people to help others. My favourite stories are of people who never had a home being helped by habitat and having to give back. hours to help the next bunch of homeowners. Homeless people who help get others off the street after being helped themselves. Adopted children becoming pillars of the community.

    We can find the bad in everyone if we look for it, so I always try to find the good... The spots would inspire me to do more, but I am the type who gives a lot already. Those who criticize this might be the selfish few who would never think to give back to the world. Go for it and poo on the nay sayers. They aren't bad people, they are just people who have hearts a little too small ... who have never felt it swell from giving of themselves=)

    October 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Channing

    I believe the intent is noteworthy but the message need not be lost in its sender. Example would be a public announcement about "good or appropriate behavior" and you have Charlie Sheen's character from 'Two and Half Men' promoting it during their comedy half hour of lush-laced sarcasm.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Riggan

    I think this is a laudable start to tackle a gigantic problem. People are influenced by media, whether they believe so or not. Why else would there be an advertising industry worth billions? As long as the messages from media are about violence, devisiveness, and self benefit no matter the cost to others, society will continue down a path of destruction. If instead, we begin to "advertise" the benefits of cooperation, helping others, and moderation in all available venues, we will see people begin to subtly shift to those values. That it must be done well is obvious. But people are beginning to recognize that greed and self promotion are causing many of society's ills, so they will be receptive to a new message from the entertainment industry, which can in turn promote these new values. What a radical concept – TV entertainment being a positive influence on viewers!

    October 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kristen

    Scripted television always has a message (as do most "realtiy" tv shows). It is good to see that the message will be positive this week. I am not sure who they are aiming it at though. Maybe the 18-24 year old males that seem to be the "favored" segment. Most of the rest of us DO volunteer, a lot. Otherwise, nothing would get done. Especially now that times are harder. I have a DVR so that I can coach soccer, get kids enthused about chemistry and chaperone Scouts. If the programming encourages people who nomrally sit on their couches thinking "well, someone else will take care of it" to actually get up and DO something, then great.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JeromeMJ

    Find the Good in making money on the TV show? Maybe CNN should 'find the good' in people with differing views on America than they espouse.

    October 19, 2009 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |

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