Did Harry Knowles Fleece His Fans with His Kickstarter?

It's his prop and you can look but don't touch

It’s his prop and you can look but don’t touch

On September 5, 2013, Harry Knowles successfully funded his Kickstarter campaign to pay for a second season of his web series movie review show, Ain’t It Cool with Harry Knowles. Harry is the founder of Ain’t It Cool News, a movie news, gossip and review site and he was given season one of the show as part of Nerdist’s then-new channel with YouTube. The show never got very good viewership (over a year later, the majority of episodes have less than 20,000 views). Harry is an awkward interviewer who used the show to frequently brag about props and guests but also presented an off-putting show that played like Pee Wee’s Playhouse but with vulgar language. It was all over the place.

While some of Nerdist’s lesser-viewed shows currently get 30,000 or so views, those have much lower production costs. And many of their shows get more than 1 million views. So Harry’s show was canceled (or not renewed, if we want to be nice). Harry was determined to keep doing his show despite critics and fans alike not really liking it. He offered a Kickstarter with some pretty terrible rewards and it floundered for a full month. In the last week, Harry called in favors from film directors Rian Johnson, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro who made videos and reached out to social media to ask their fans to support Harry. He crossed the goal line at the last minute. It’s been over half a year – has he fulfilled his obligations? Well, we’ll list the facts and let you draw your own conclusions.


#1 There have been no updates to the Kickstarter campaign since it was successfully completed

You can check it out for yourself by clicking here. Neither Harry nor anyone on his team have put any kind of official update up on the status of the project. That’s not very encouraging. You can also look at the Comments section and see a lot of people asking what’s up. There are a few replies but nothing concrete on when people can expect to see what they paid for. One reply says they’ve finished 7 episodes but there are no official updates to back this up. This is even more frustrating for the backers who were promised exclusive updates about the status. According to many on both the Kickstarter page and in various forums, they’ve received no such updates.

Harry shows off all the cool STUFF he has

Harry shows off all the cool STUFF he has

#2 There have been no updates on the site or social media

Harry hasn’t posted a single thing to his website, Twitter account, or Instagram about the status of the show. If he’s working on something that takes up so much time, why no mention anywhere about what he’s creating?

Harry requires a massive crew to film him in closeup talking about what he's up to

Harry requires a massive crew to film him in closeup talking about what he’s up to

#3 According to the Hollywood Reporter, Harry Knowles owed $300K in back taxes

If you read this article, you’ll see that Harry has not been wise about managing his finances. Harry claims to have paid off that debt but can his fans who backed his Kickstarter campaign know that for sure? He hasn’t released any records to back the claim up. To make matters worse, the Kickstarter campaign never broke down where any of the funding went specifically. He asked for $100,000 from his fans to make some web episodes. Why can excellent web series/review shows like Red Letter Media and Angry Video Game Nerd produce top-notch shows for free and Harry needs $100,000? It’s not addressed. If I funded his campaign, I’d want to see the accounting.

I don't know what he's doing here

I don’t know what he’s doing here

#4 Harry bought himself a new car

Harry mostly only posts about movies he’s seen, but in December, he posted this tweet about buying a new car estimated at $24-28K. He sure is okay with throwing his money around when he’s being watched. Maybe that’s a good sign. But he should probably consider explaining why he can afford a new car but not afford his own web show.

He never moves

He never moves

#5 Rewards still haven’t been distributed

According to people in updates to the Kickstarter page, talkbackers on Harry’s site and supporters talking about the project in this Kickstarter forum about fraud, many people haven’t been given their backer rewards yet. They were due, at the latest, last December.

What a fun set - a dank basement!

What a fun set – a dank basement!

All in all, things don’t look good for those who supported this project. As soon as it was about to be funded, Harry changed the project by announcing it would air on Austin, TX’s local PBS station. That wasn’t quite what people thought they were funding and the legality of it is iffy. But even so, you’d think that would help drive things forward. Harry already had his set and he claimed to have several interviews in the bag. When people like Red Letter Media can make two shows on a roughly weekly schedule, both about half an hour each, reviewing films – why can’t Harry get even one episode done over 6 months later with $100,000?

  • Skewed_View

    I’m sure everything is on the up and up. Everything I’ve ever heard about Harry makes him sound like a really stand-up guy, chalk full of business ethics and morals.

  • http://www.doubledumbassonyou.com doubledumbass

    Harry lives so loudly on the Internet bragging about his collections and interactions with directors and stars but for him to be completely silent about this Kickstarter campaign is highly suspicious. I’ve been following this closely for a while now and while the Talkbackers have never been truly kind to Harry but I am definitely starting to lean on the side of “he fleeced everyone”.

  • Dracula

    Harry Knowles is as duplicitous and greedy as he is fat and revolting. Harsh but true. The second season of his show will NOT appear and the money donated will go to more of the garbage he raves about and to his legal fees, which are only going to continue to mount when this Kickstarter fraud situation goes unanswered.

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  • JonSnowBalls

    Last I saw they said something about submitting it to their local PBS for approval. Will this no longer be put on Youtube? It doesn’t cost anything to upload to Youtube so I do not understand that decision, if that’s the case. I don’t see how this guy isn’t facing charges.

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  • Queefer Sutherland

    I laugh at those foolish enough to donate.

  • CancellingtheApocalypse

    those interviews already in the bag are going to be dated as hell. I like how Harry has a typo on his twitter about dealorship when it is spelled dealership. 5 comments on this article? Wow, aintitcool has way more in their talk back. This article is hilarious and spot on but maybe envious of Harry’s 100 plus comments per article to this pages average of 4 comments per article

  • AL Swrgn


  • http://www.fuckyouyounosybastard.com HapHazzard

    Jon, he’s not facing charges because it’s not a criminal matter yet, if it ever will be. You know this. Stating it’s a fraud when you have no proof either way at the moment doesn’t make it so.
    Harry is a jerk, and irresponsible, and in terms of ethics and morals, well, I’m sure he’s heard of the concepts but he never signed up to them apparently. This we all know. And I fully suspect that only a portion of the money funded is being used to make the show, which it looks like he’s cobbling together at the last minute on the very cheap if the pics he’s released are anything to go by. But until you actually have the detailed bank accounts showing where the money went, you’ve got no proof in terms of a criminal complaint. All it is right now is a breach of kickstarter conditions for his failures to update and fulfill, and at best there’s some scope for civil action from those who donated. But until all of that’s been explored fully, the police won’t touch it. It’s the nature of the beast.