Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 13, 2014

With help from thousands, 'Veronica Mars' reborn

(Continued)

"It's a brilliant idea that's gotten out of hand," ''House of Cards" producer Dana Brunetti recently said at a SXSW panel discussion. "It's wrong when people like Zach Braff or Spike Lee use that same service to fund their films when they already have access. I think it overshadows and takes away from the little guys who actually need the funding."

Thomas says he'd rather not be considered a poster boy for Kickstarter. "Every project has its own separate concerns," he says. Instead, he believes the choice is up to consumers.

"If it bothers you that Zach Braff probably has a lot of money from 'Scrubs,'" says Thomas, "then don't give to it."

Before "Veronica Mars" found 91,585 backers who pledged about $5.7 million (far surpassing the $2 million Thomas sought), it was essentially doomed. The Warner Bros. Television-produced series was canceled in 2007 after three seasons on UPN and CW.

Yet fans of the show — which Thomas pitched as "teen noir" — loved its sharp banter and the dark atmosphere of a corrupt California town, the fictional Neptune. As the witty, street-smart title character, Kristen Bell (whose fame has since grown and who now stars on Showtime's "House of Lies") followed the strong female protagonists of shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Alias."

Thomas, whose other shows include the similarly cult favorite "Party Down," was only able to lobby Warner Bros. to make a "Veronica Mars" movie if he proved the fervent fan base. Though a grassroots triumph, "Veronica Mars" has behind it one of the largest, most powerful movie studios on the planet, which easily could have bankrolled the film if it wanted to.

If legitimate rewards hadn't been offered for donors, Thomas says: "That would have smelled. That would have felt icky."

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