Tonight, before “Smallville” airs on the CW, the viewers that watch KTLA here in Southern California will see a curious thing — a fan-funded “tribute commercial” singing the praises of Allison Mack, who has played Chloe Sullivan on the show since the first episode aired in October 2001. The commercial, filmed in February in Los Angeles and directed by Jon Michael Kondrath, highlights the milestone moments in Chloe’s odyssey from high school student to Daily Planet employee and, through it all, defining the physics of friendship with her very special pal, a certain Man of Steel. The ad will air twice during the 6 p.m. hour. The fan group behind all this calls itself Legendary and hopes to air the mini-tribute in other markets as well. I invited one of the key members, Margaret J. Bates of Alabama, to write a guest essay about the cult of Chloe. — Geoff Boucher
“Chloe who?” I get that a lot. When you’re a fan of “Smallville,” it’s not always the cool thing to love someone who is an original creation of the show (as opposed to an import from the longtime Superman mythology of the comics, films, etc.). Heck, I’ve found myself trying to explain what Chloe is even doing on the show in the first place. People know Lex Luthor and the Man of Steel. In contrast, you get a blank stare when you mention Chloe Sullivan’s name. However, she’s become a lot more than “Chloe who?” to me and to legions of “Smallville” fans.
Chloe has been on the series since Day 1 and is the only character besides Clark Kent to endure in that small cornstalk town from the start of the first season through the ninth season finale. She’s the one me and many others identify with. Chloe is smart, she’s sarcastic, but she’s also serious when she needs to be. I’ve watched her start out as a snarky high-school reporter ready to climb into the Mystery Machine and solve all the bizarre puzzles of her hometown. I’ve seen her flourish — and stumble. I cheered for her when Chloe achieved her dreams by becoming a published reporter for The Daily Planet at 19. I’ve cried with her losses, too, like her firing and the way she’s locked herself in an emotional prison this past season.
Mostly though, I’ve watched her kick a lot of ass.
Chloe is a heroine. She’s not a heroine because she looks great in a star-spangled one piece or a leather cat suit. She’s not a heroine because she has karate skills. Chloe’s a heroine because she’s smart. Yes, yes, she does possess that magical hacker ability that seems to run rampant on television, but she’s more than that, more than a “Chloogle.” She sees the angles that Clark often misses. She calls him on his crap. She goes toe-to-toe with the most powerful superhero out there and she never hesitates. She’s the woman behind the Man of Steel and she’s the one who’s risked her life (and even her mind) to keep him safe. In the coming season finale, airing Friday on the CW, she’ll be calling together the Justice League and the Justice Society for a major crisis / major guest-star moment. Note that it’s not Clark Kent doing that, but Chloe Sullivan, a mere mortal, coordinating a massive scale battle to save Earth from an alien invasion. I mean, how can I not love her for that?
All of this is why, along with my friend, Liz De Razzo, and others, I’ve co-produced a commercial for Chloe Sullivan and in honor of the actress who plays her, Allison Mack. The ad, called Legendary, will air twice tonight on KTLA — at 6:17 and 6:48. We all wanted to do something unique and we feel this is. Here’s a teaser for the ad…
There has never been a fan-tribute ad just for one character. (As one site, Sci-Fi Revolution, put it, “Where’s the ad for Jack Bauer?”) Chloe, however, has inspired us to do this. I’m not saying it’s time to cue up the Bette Midler; we do, contrary to the fanboy / fangirl stereotype, have real lives.
Still, she’s been an example for us in pop culture of someone we could aspire to be. She’s a driven career woman, has been since we saw her in her first scene of the pilot. We watched her struggle to earn her way into journalism. It was something that, in tandem with our real-life role models, drove us on to our own achievements in life.
I may be a producer on the weekends, but in my day job I’m a graduate student. The women who have contributed to the Legendary project include lawyers and doctors and writers. Chloe appeals to us. She inspired me and so when this crazy idea was first proposed, I couldn’t help but agree, even though it meant organizing it and helping to get it done from halfway across the country here in Alabama. And then there was the cost. Most people are not as determined as “Smallville” fans, especially those of the Chloe Sullivan variety — and most people are probably not as insanely devoted.
Where do we go from here?” Cue the end song from the “Buffy” musical episode (yes, no surprise, I happen to be a full-on, old-school WB lover). I’ve seen what fandom can do firsthand. I’ve watched “Smallville” fans in separate campaigns raise $4,000 this year for The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
I know that Liz De Razzo and her organization IBG Inc. started out of a love for the “X-Files“ work of Gillian Anderson and have now raised thousands for various charities. In that spirit, Legendary is just the beginning. I feel like it is the first project from our newborn group, Legendary Women Inc. As we get the site off the ground, and more people joining, we want to highlight women in the media and characters from film and television who serve as true role models for young women. We also want to follow in other fandoms’ footsteps and do at least one yearly charity drive. So, in other words, Buffy Summers, Agent Olivia Dunham and Dr. Dana Scully, you’re next. Step up and be Legendary.
– Margaret J. Bates
A teaser for tonight’s “Smallville” epsiode — but, um, where’s Chloe?
RECENT AND RELATED
ON THE SET: Exclusive photos from “Smallville” set
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.