Show-runners stealing the show from the stars as Twitter takes over

By Alicia Rancilio, AP

NEW YORK — When a new episode of ABC Family’s ��Pretty Little Liars�� airs, its show-runner, I. Marlene King, makes a point to go on Twitter to see what the fans have to say.

King is among the newest class of TV celebrities on social media: Show-runners, who are both gaining in followers and who find that social media gives back perhaps even more than they put in.

��I pay enormous attention to it,�� King said. ��I am on social media live every night when the show airs and the next day as well looking at the feedback we got regarding the episode. Yes, I have vision for the show and a creative destination where I know the show is going, but I would be foolish not to take advantage of this wonderful, giant focus group of millions of people we have each week when the show airs.��

King said social media has helped validate her decisions about the fate of certain characters on ��PLL.��

��I started falling in love with the character of Toby early on in the show,�� she said. ��We were going to follow the books and have his character die early on, but as I started to fall in love with him I noticed fans were really falling in love with him, and together as the show and the fans we decided to keep him.��

Show-runner Hart Hanson (��Bones,�� Fox) pays attention to what the fans are saying online but makes the point that not all of his viewers are using social media.

Show-runner Shonda Rhimes, whose block of prime-time ABC programming on Thursday nights ��Grey’s Anatomy,�� ��Scandal�� and ��How to Get Away with Murder�� has boosted her fame and has more than 791,000 Twitter followers, puts it into perspective with the disclaimer in the bio of her Twitter account:

Andrew Adashek, head of TV at Twitter, says fans who follow show-runners can get inside information they wouldn’t otherwise have access to via dropped spoilers and hints about upcoming plots.

Added Julie Plec, show-runner of The CW’s ��The Vampire Diaries�� and ��The Originals��: ��I think one thing the fans have realized is you can interact with the stars and that’s great, but the stars are sworn to secrecy and not allowed to tell you anything … If I decide I want to give something away today and tell a secret, I can because it’s my rule.��

It can also just be plain entertaining to follow these creative people.

Not everyone wants to be that accessible. ��Teen Wolf�� show-runner Jeff Davis used to be on Twitter and closed his account in December 2012.

Plec empathizes when fans get worked up about a particular storyline and feel the need to communicate that on social media.

��If I had grown up with Twitter I would’ve been just like them. I would’ve been tweeting at the ‘General Hospital’ writers being like, ‘Oh my God! How could you do that to Lucky?’�� she laughed. ��So, I get it.��

She says she often turns to Twitter herself to follow the people that she’s a fan of.