First noticed this a week ago, and re-noticed it last night while watching this week's episode of Nip/Tuck:
During one of the ad breaks, FX ran a spot to promote what they're referring to as a "fancast," where fans are encouraged to record audio clips of themselves discussing their thoughts about the show and send them in for possible inclusion in (what I assume is a cleverly renamed) Nip/Tuck podcast. Viewers are also encouraged to send in questions for a selected member of the cast, who will (presumably) answer either the questions that are most commonly asked, or that the fancast producers find most interesting.
This strikes me as interesting for a few reasons.
For one, it sets up the content of the podcast (fan discussion and dialogue) as more important than the medium of the communication (an iPod).
More importantly, though, it establishes a clear relationship between audience participants and cultural producers from the outset: we want to hear what you have to say as fans of the show, so long as we're all clear on the fact that you *are* fans of the show.
It's an interesting and subtle clarification to make upfront, given the problems that some creative teams have faced in the past due to the ambiguous and unarticulated boundaries that exist in their online interactions with fans. In some ways, the "fancast" is similar to the use of "intermediary channels" like Ask Ausiello and Watch With Kristin; audience questions and input are still moderated, but in this case, by someone working either inside the show or inside the network... no need to form polite give-and-take relationships with outside writers, and it (potentially) makes the audience feel that much closer to the stars of the show.
I'd actually be quite curious to know how FX is structured, in terms of the division of responsibility on these projects, between the show team and the network's marketing division. I'd also be curious to know whether fancasts are specific to Nip/Tuck, or being produced for several of the network's more popular dramas.
Either way, given the attention that Nip/Tuck got for using a MySpace profile to deepen viewer engagement with last season's narrative arc about the Carver, I'm interested in keeping tabs on whatever they're doing now.