Thursday, October 31, 2013

John Zaffis Announces 'Haunted Collector' Cancellation

BY AARON SAGERS

Well, it looks as if Syfy's "Haunted Collector" has moved on to the afterlife ... and I want to talk about why.

Although Syfy has not made an announcement, according to his Facebook post on Thursday, show lead John Zaffis said, "hi all just letting you know haunted collector will not be coming back sorry to all our fans." Produced by Gurney Productions, the show premiered in 2011 and revolved around veteran ghost hunter and researcher John Zaffis and his team, which included Brian Cano, Jason Gates, Jesslyn Brown and Zaffis' children Aimee and Chris. The primary focus on the show was Zaffis' pursuit of haunted objects aka "possessed possessions," which he would explore and add to his paranormal museum.

But let's take a look behind the scenes.

Zaffis did not reveal the particulars of why "Haunted Collector" won't be returning, however Gurney Productions (which also produces "Duck Dynasty," "Auction Hunters," "American Digger") sold its controlling stake to the massive British TV company ITV in December 2012 for $40 million. According to Deadline, that means ITV has a 61.5 percent stake, with the option to purchase the remaining 38.5 percent 3-5 years after the initial deal.

So what's that mean? Well, "Duck Dynasty" isn't going anywhere, that's for sure. That show's season finale last week pulled in 8.4 million viewers, only bested by Game One of the World Series, reports "The Hollywood Reporter." But "Haunted Collector" was certainly no slouch. In its second season, the show averaged a respectable 1.17 million total viewers and enjoyed a 6 percent boost over its first season.

It is possible that Syfy has decided to move away from the paranormal realm, although it did renew "Ghost Mine" for a second season and I'm guessing "Ghost Hunters" will enjoy at least another season (I would be shocked if the series went away before its 10th anniversary next year). The network has not yet announced whether "Paranormal Witness" is returning, though I'd bet it will. Meanwhile, a new season of "Haunted Highway" begins Nov. 27 and the internationally-flavored  "Notorious Hauntings" "Killer Contact"(from Pilgrim Studios, the same folks behind "Ghost Hunters" & "Ghost Hunters International") premieres Dec. 4.

The folks at Syfy are pretty savvy, and if a show is performing, it will stay on the air. For fans of the paranormal investigative genre, let me make clear that this is about numbers and not "evidence." Whether you love or loathe a paranormal reality show, its existence rests pretty much on the ratings it delivers and how much it costs to make, and whether the former justifies the latter.

So, assuming "Haunted Collector" was considered a success, why might it be yanked? My wild speculation is money. ITV is a giant and its American division is behind "Hell’s Kitchen," "The First 48" and "Kitchen Nightmares." My guess is, post-Gurney purchase, they made some money demands from Syfy to continue with "Haunted Collector." The decision to not bring the show back is just a little too nicely timed with the production company's buyout. Syfy might have wanted more "HC" but couldn't justify the additional costs.

Then again, I could be way wrong, which is why I label that theory "wild speculation." But I will say it would seem the writing has been on the wall for some time now. Last summer, while talking about "The Conjuring," I asked Zaffis whether his show would return for a fourth season.

His response?

"As of right now, as we’re speaking, I’m really not sure what is happening as far as anything pertaining to a Season Four moving forward. But that’s OK by me. I had the three seasons to do it, I enjoyed working with everybody and I don’t know what the future holds as far as the 'Haunted Collector' TV series."

Of course, whatever the reason, Zaffis has an impressive reputation in the paranormal community and the end of "Haunted Collector" won't hold him back much. In fact, I'd predict the next step will be seeing the Zaffis caseload tapped for movie adaptations as the entertainment industry attempts to capitalize on the success of "The Conjuring," and other "real life" ghost stories.

Sound off on your own theories and predictions below.

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