Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feel The Dancing

I used to be the easiest person in the world to manipulate (I'd like to think that I've matured and this is no longer true but I can't cite any empirical evidence of that). Back in the day, all one had to do was tell me that I couldn't do something and, sure as God made little green apples, THAT's what I'd do.

The Reverse Psychology Poster Boy - that was me.

So, in the late seventies/early eighties when Wayne Walsh and I were writing songs by the bushel, our manager manipulated me easily to get us to write a Disco song. He simply told me that the reason I didn't like Disco was because I couldn't do it.

Well, that was one gauntlet the Reverse Psychology Poster Boy couldn't resist and - within two weeks - we had "Feel The Dancing".

I still cringe when I hear it.

Not because the lyrics are insipid (though they are)

Not because the tune is mindless (though it is)

Not because the production is painfully pedictable (though, my God, is it ever... and yes, I was the Producer)

No, it's because I was so easily manipulated into doing it.

So much for standards.

(Click on the title above to hear an MP3 of "Feel The Dancing")

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hollywood - A Cautionary Tale

You come up with an idea, flesh it out and think, this is pretty good. So you take steps to protect it then submit your idea to appropriate agencies to see if anyone wants to develop it.

You're screwed.

The powers that be in Hollywood will take your idea and do whatever they want with it and give you nothing in return and there's nothing you can do about it. That's the lesson I recently learned.

On February 18th 2008, NBC premiered its new gameshow "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad" - there's a description of it at

Its Executive Producer is Mark Burnett (the guy who gave us "Survivor") and its Creator is credited as Jon Hotchkiss (of "Penn and Tellers: Bullshit" fame).

Check out the description of the show and then check out my article from this very blog (from January 21 2006) -

More than just a little similar, don't ya think?

Sure, they've made some changes. The name, for one thing, changed from "My Dad Can Beat Your Dad" to "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad". But the changes are all sort of evolutionary; the type of changes you would expect once you start to develop an idea. The premise, the structure, the idea - it's all the same.

January 2006. That's when I published that blog entry. I didn't publish it until after I gave up on flogging the idea through because I didn't want to spend more money renewing my subscription there. So my idea was in Hollywood's hands before January 2006. That isn't a coincidence.

Since I have actual proof that I had this idea first, I contacted an intellectual property lawyer in Toronto, he referred me to a lawyer in Los Angeles (I didn't ask this lawyer for permission to use his name so I won't, but he's a well known expert in the field and has worked on some famous cases involving idea theft in Hollywood.) His advice? "...just forget about it. Let it go. Move on with your life."

That's a verbatim quote from our email correspondence. So is this: "...for every successful TV show or movie, there are around 15 various different people who claim that they had written the idea first. Some of them have registered for Copyright Protection, and many of them have registered their scripts with the Writers Guild of America. None of them prevail, in my experience."

Remember, this guy is a pro - out there - dealing with these issues all the time. And he wasn't being cruel; he's seems like a real nice guy just telling the truth as he knows it: "...just forget about it. Let it go..." I'm taking his advice.

Moral of the story? If you come up with a good idea and you aren't prepared to develop it yourself, put it in the shedder. It'll bring you nothing but heartache.