by Gene Turnbow
Fans voted by the thousands for the 2012 People’s Choice awards and were not disappointed last Wednesday when Nathan Fillion won an award for “Favorite TV Drama Actor” for his starring role as Richard Castle on the ABC series Castle, along with the cast and crew of the show for winning in the category of “Favorite TV Crime Drama”. In addition to a long list of other achievements in film and televsion, Nathan Fillion is known in science fiction fandom circles for his portrayal of the self-centered Captain Hammer in Joss Whedon’s Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, but is best known as Captain Malcom Reynolds in the short-lived but wildly popular science fiction TV series Firefly and the 2005 motion picture it spawned entitled Serenity.
Nathan Fillion doesn’t just play a hero on TV (we note a recurring theme of captaincy) he takes the idea into the real world and does what he can to make the world a better place. He co-founded the non-profit organization Kids Need to Read with author PJ Haarsma in 2007. Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.
The fans of the series Firefly call themselves “Browncoats”, and are some of the most tight-knit fandom groups out there. Many are surprised to learn that the original show only lasted 11 episodes before Fox Television cancelled it.
Nathan Fillion’s association with the Kids Need to Read charity is not just window dressing or cheap publicity. The various fan projects and groups associated with the charity raised a total of $36,504 for KNTR in 2011, and that amount does not include contributions from individuals. This year, they impacted 23,463 children, almost quadruple the amount of children served in 2010! Browncoat and Fillion fan funds played a large role in that growth.
One important affiliate is Whedonopolis.com, a subsidiary of Fandom Charities, Inc. a 501c non-profit organization based in Los Angeles. Whedonopolism under the direction of Marsia Powers, organizes annual Doctor Horrible screenings in cooperation with Joss Whedon and the cluster of creative professionals who have worked with him over the years, including Nathan Fillion – who seems to have a fondness for making surprise in-person appearances at the annual events. The screenings typically draw hundreds of people, some of whom commute great distances to be there.