June 9, 1998 - June 12, 1998
Question to John
2:27 am Tuesday June 9, 1998
You might be able to help me out with something. The 1948
Paramount decision forced the studios to sell off their theaters.
Why are companies like Time Warner alowed to own cable systems
and cable networks at the same time, not to mention all the other
things they own? I have an idea why this is, but I wonder what
the specific legal reason for this is? Does Congress grant
individual waivers to Time Warner, or did the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 nulify the Paramount decision of
1948? Or is it something else? I'm not a lawyer so I would
appreciate your opinion on this.
I'm with you on this even if I criticized some of your ideas. The
bulk of what you write is true.
Important Notice to Visitors
2:52 am Tuesday June 9, 1998
Due to the size and popularity of this Discussion Forum, we have "bottomed-out" our
other .cgi script and have had to relocate this discussion to the NEW URL YOU ARE
NOW AT, such being: http://venus.beseen.com/boardroom/q/16757.
Reset your bookmarks to THIS URL and you can continue reading and/or contributing
to this Forum, which is exactly the same as the one at the old URL. PLEASE DO NOT
POST ANYTHING AT THE OLD URL, AS IT WILL BE DELETED SOON. Also,
please note that we have archived all the previous discussions (since the inception of the Forum around the first week of April 1998) at
http://www.homevideo.net/FIRM/archives.htm. Thank you for your participation and
unique views. James Jaeger
Automatically Parsed Royalties
3:05 am Tuesday June 9, 1998
Does anyone have any comments on this proposed new system of recouping investors
and paying producers, writers, talent and profit participants directly into their bank
accounts at time of ticket sale or rental?
I would be very interested in your views.
5:32 am Tuesday June 9, 1998
:I would appreciate your opinion on this. : :I'm with you on this even if I criticized some of
your ideas. The :bulk of what you write is true.
I'm sure John will answer your legal question, Mr. Blank (do you mind if I call you that
instead of Blanko), however I just wanted to validate you for participating in this
discussion, especially when it seems you either work at one of the studios or are in the
film business in some hands-on way.
If we could encourage more people such as yourself to enter this discussion, especially
studio execs, and take some action, I'm sure things will work out. I basically love my
industry and have loved filmmaking since the early 1960s when, as a boy, I started
directing Double 8 films (Super 8 had not been invented) with kids in the neighborhood
(one of which was Anson Downes who is now a talented writer and John Travolta's best
This is why I paused long and hard before I allied myself with John Cones in this
endeavor. Of course, just like many of you, I was wondering if he really WAS
anti-Semitic, or a bigot, or had some nefarious agenda. But after several years of
reading his books, talking to him on the phone, countless emails and even discussing him
with other filmmakers and attorneys, one of which was my father's personal counsel
(who is a major opinion leader in industry and in the Philadelphia area), I came to the
conclusion that what John was observing in the Film Industry was exactly what I have
observed and experienced over the past 23 years, close up as well as from an objective
My published books, such as the "Independent Producer's Manual" and "The Book of
Budgets", have given me the opportunity to become aquatinted with literally thousands of
filmmakers over the past 23 years. Therefore I KNOW what their career frustrations
are and how Film Schools and the Film Industry are taking advantage of them.
I laso know what it means for them to leave their family and friends and move to
Hollywood for ten years to hopefully (they think) enter a game that is executed on a level
playing field. Unfortunately this is simply not what happens or the state of the playing
Not only do they find that their film school education is usually a joke when they get
there, by the time the get back to their home state 10 years later - they are ALIENS IN
AN ALIEN ENVIRONMENT and all their friends have moved on. The landscape
"looks" the same - but it ISN'T the same - and so they must start a totally Second Life
(as opposed to a mere second career, because, remember, their DREAMS, as Artists
were smashed too, not just their economic livelihood as most filmmakers aren't in it for
the money - they're above THAT).
But back in LA, 1980s, I thought: if one learns their craft well, is honest and ethical,
makes friends, helps others, works hard, sets goals, policies, plans, programs and
projects all aligned with each other, in support of attaining a worthwhile dream - and all
projects pursued in the proper sequence and at the proper gradient - they WILL be
successful in the film business, and this is true, but not the film business that exists today -
but the film business that we are creating for tomorrow. My partner Andrew Cofrin, from
Wisconsin, thought the same thing. In fact we used to drive down Wilshire after seeing a
movie in Westwood almost every day, discussing this idea interminably. Andy, who
was no stranger to the concept of "Industry" (as his grandfather had founded the Ft.
Howard Paper Company, which today does annual sales greater than many of the
MPAA studio/distributors combined), worked very diligently on his acting, and even
though he wasn't the most gifted actor in the world, maybe the same could have been
said of me as a director - but we, like other actors and filmmakers were determined to
always improve and always get better. And to this end, Andy, went out and purchased
$38,000 worth of professional video equipment (Sharp XC-800 camera, Sony
RM-440/5800/5800 3/4-inch Umatic editing system, Mole Richardson lights and a fluid
head tripod) purely to practice craft and share the opportunity with who ever wandered
by. And we used to take scenes from the classics films, and re-enact and shoot them for
practice, as well as create our own "Video Workshop Productions." We shot thousands
of hours of these things, feeling that, CRAFT or WHAT YOU KNOW, made a
difference. But it doesn't.
The difference between us and others, as we did not know at the time, was the fact that
neither of us were BORN into the industry or had some kind of familial or heritage
connections. Now I know there are some of you, having just read that last statement will
bring up many examples of people who were "outsiders and who made it in Hollywood".
All right, I'll tell you what, maybe you're right and maybe I'm just justifying, so in the
interest of really knowing, let's take 25 issues of the "Hollywood Reporter" and randomly
pick out 100 movies that appeared on the charts, no matter what they grossed, and
generate a random list of above-line talent from these. Then we'll take this list and see
who's on it and if they were born into the industry or had some kind of familial or heritage
connections. I truly hope I am wrong about this, because this would show hope for all,
but again my conclusions and experience in this industry demonstrate that it is mostly
NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT WHO YOU KNOW. You can be the most
bumbling filmmaker that ever existed, but if your dad's last name is say Douglas or Penn
or Fonda, their editors and cinematographers and writers will MAKE you look good.
Isn't that, after all, what Hollywood IS ALL ABOUT - creating illusions?
Over the past 23 years, in dealing in some way with most of the major studios, mini
majors, major production companies, minor production companies, directors, B-stars,
major stars their agents and lawyers and business managers and accountants and
producer's reps, etc., etc., submitting countless screenplays and budgets and packages
and projects and cover-letters and more packages and more drafts and polishes and
summaries and 1-lines and demo cassettes and artwork, and, and, and: I have kept
eidetic, auditing notes on all this. Every conversation, every letter every meeting, exact
time, exact date, exact person, event, exactly who called who, what was said, quoted.
My purpose for this was to A) improve what and how I was submitting and B) make
sure I was sticking to my goals and plans and be in a position to know if others were too.
If I were to publish this body of data (maybe 50,000 pages) - you would see without
any shadow of a doubt how completely insane the Film Industry and its executives are
and how unleveled the playing field actually is and what is more, you might get some
insight as to why I and my 18 partners HAD to establish Matrixx Entertainment, write 98 training manuals, 5 books and NOW, be involved with supporting FIRM - when I
COULD have just quietly practiced medicine (like everyone else in my family.) I am,
nevertheless, in the hope that there may someday be an alternative "studio system" to the
corrupt system that exists today. Lee Garmes, my mentor, who, though unaccredited,
shot GONE WITH THE WIND, and over 100 classic features, first brought this state of
affairs to my attention in 1978 and wanted change too.
Letter to Carlos de Abreau Attorney
1:52 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
JOHN W. CONES
1324 Marinette Road
Pacific Palisades, California 90272
June 8, 1998
Raymond Sutton, Attorney
15233 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1000
Sherman Oaks, California 91403
Re: Carlos de Abreau's Threatening Letter
Dear Mr. Sutton:
In keeping with my former friend Carlos de Abreau's earlier request to correspond
with you regarding his activities and the Hollywood Network, I do have a number of
questions regarding his recent threatening letter directed to James Jaeger, with copies to
the Internet Service Provider for FIRM and a total of three lawyers (a bit of overkill,
don't you think?):
1. Why was such a vicious letter sent only to Mr. Jaeger and not to me, since you, I and
Carlos de Abreau know full well that all content at the FIRM site regarding Carlos de
Abreau was drafted solely by me?
2. Why was a copy sent to FIRM's ISP? Is that just more of Carlos de Abreau's and
Hollywood's tactics of intimidation (i.e., threatening to take our right of free speech away
just because he doesn't like what is being said)?
3. Can you be more specific with regard to exactly what it is that Carlos de Abreau
thinks is being said about him that is not true? As far as I'm concerned, nothing has been
posted about Carlos de Abreau which is not true, and there's more truth coming. In fact,
I'm reserving an entire chapter in my forthcoming book "How Hollywood Squelches
Dissent" for the Carlos de Abreau story.
4. Do you think a 48-hour demand to remove the posting in question is enough time to
communicate back and forth and work out this perceived problem, or is it Carlos de
Abreau's position that it is he, and he alone, that will determine what the truth is?
5. Why don't you advise your client Carlos de Abreau to take advantage of the open
Discussion Forum at the FIRM site to tell us how displeased he is with my postings
regarding his irresponsible conduct? That's what it's there for. Is Carlos de Abreau
above open discussion of important issues.
6. Can you be more specific as to how in the world telling the truth about Carlos de
Abreau has caused any damage of any kind to his business or to him personally, or is
that just a legal fiction combined with more Hollywood fantasy? What is his business
7. Why are you pretending that the issue here is whether I actually got a hard copy of
the accumulated Q&A (which as Carlos de Abreau well knows, is of little or no value),
when the real issue is whether Carlos de Abreau failed to meet his obligation to deal with
me in a fair and reasonable manner, by (1) abruptly dumping the Investor Financing
Q&A service, (2) without discussing it with me in advance, (3) without providing any
reasonable explanation for his actions, (4) refusing to communicate with me directly
regarding the matter (even though I had helped him both with his earlier book and with
the Hollywood Network site), and (5) he claims to have deleted the contents of the
Investor Financing Q&A without doing the reasonable and responsible thing (i.e, making
the contents of the site available to me for transfer to a new site in electronic format).
Are you going to take the absurd position, that Carlos de Abreau has met his obligations
to me by sending over a hard copy version of the material?
8. If the guy is suffering from "emotional distress" as he claims, don't you realize that it
may be caused by his own frustration with trying to succeed in his long-time ambition of
making it as a film producer in Hollywood, and after being convinced by his
pseudo-friends in Hollywood to dump my Investor Financing Q&A from his Hollywood
Network site, he has been shocked to learn that I do not intend to go away quietly? On
the other hand, maybe he just has a lot of guilt about the sleazy series of decisions he has
made in connection with this transaction, in addition to what he has done to me and all of
the thousands of independent feature film producers out there who relied on the Investor
Financing Q&A as a valuable and free resource.
9. Don't you realize that giving a client legal sounding jargon to put in this threatening
letters, just makes your client look foolish.
10. If Carlos de Abreau wants to avoid any further appearances of wrongdoing and
malfeasance, he should finish the job he started. After taking down all of the content I
had provided for his site for several years, he has failed to also delete the many search
engine references tying me and his site together. So, if someone submits my name to an
Internet search engine, they are still likely to get four or five Hollywood Network
locations, before anything else. Those Hollywood Network references, however, are
dead ends, because Carlos de Abreau has removed all of the content provided by me.
So, for the moment, the lack of thoroughness and follow through of Carlos de Abreau is
causing inconvenience to all persons searching for my materials on the Internet, and
otherwise just getting in the way, causing
more harm to my interests. Either clean it up or admit that harming my interests has been
the primary motivation behind the actions taken by Carlos de Abreau and his Hollywood
cronies all along.
11. This latest malicious and threatening letter sent to James Jaeger and the ISP is just
another in a long series of acts of harassment undertaken by Carlos de Abreau in his
attempt to silence my criticism of the Hollywood establishment he holds so dear.
12. If Carlos de Abreau had honest and proper motives in this transaction, he would
have picked up the phone and discussed the matter with me before taking the Q&A site
offline. In the alternative, he would have written me a letter well in advance, and offered
to work with me in transferring the accumulated contents of the site to another address,
so that independent filmmakers across the country would not be deprived of a valuable
informational resource. Carlos de Abreau made a series of bad choices. If he suffers
because of his bad choices, he only has himself to blame.
John W. Cones
cc: FIRM Discussion Forum
re: Automatically Parsed Royalties
1:58 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Direct Deposit Proposal
Here are a few questions relating to the direct deposit proposal, offered for purposes of
stimulating discussion. Who would interpret the various provisions of the applicable
feature film distribution deal as between the film's distributor and producer for purposes
of calculating profit participations? Who would negotiate with exhibitors relative to the
settlement transaction (see discussion of settlement at "337 Distributor Business
Practices"). Who would represent the interests of the creative community in these
settlement negotiations? What entity would replace the film distributor in collecting
revenues generated by the exploitation of the film in all markets and media? Who would
calculate the various percentages due to be paid each participating entity or individual?
Who is promoting this direct deposit proposal? What are the chances the major
studio/distributors would accept such a system? Why would they? If someone had the
power to impose such a system on the major studio/distributors, what would keep them
from simply refusing to offer profit participations in their agreements with producers and
others in the creative community? Where is the leverage in Hollywood and why does it
Cones Has a Personal Agenda
2:04 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Cones Has A Personal Agenda
Derek in a Newsgroup discussion writes: "FIRM stands for Film Industry Reform
Movement, run or managed or directed by (a) securities/entertainment lawyer by the
name of Cones. Some of his advice may be legitimate, or reliable, but FIRM's posts
should be read cautiously as Cones clearly has a personal agenda which he pursues quite
Well, duh. I thought everyone had a personal agenda. If you don't you need to get one,
otherwise you will have no direction in your life. And, yes, everyone ought to be
cautious about everything he or she reads, no matter who posts it and where. On the
other hand, everybody has an "agenda", or at least a reason for writing or saying
whatever it is that they write or say. The agenda of this "Cones" guy (me) is quite clear
and open for all to see. I'm for stimulating the creation of a level playing field in the U.S.
film industry. I'm for diversity at all levels in the film industry and for more diversity on
the screen. I am proud of that agenda. It's not hidden. I do not know whether it is fair
to call that a "personal" agenda, however, because it is not likely that I will personally
benefit from this work. In fact, it is more likely that my law practice, book sales and
lecturing activities will suffer in the short-term from this advocacy role. My hope is that
future generations of filmmakers, filmgoers and the rest of society will benefit from the
sought-after "more level playing field" in this important communications industry. If
anyone is frightened by that agenda, it is probably because they have been misled into
believing that the agenda is something that it is not, or they have a perceived vested
interest in protecting the U.S. film industry's status quo which arbitrarily excludes large
segments of our diverse population from the Hollywood control positions.
Example of Misrepresentation
2:07 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Example of Misrepresentation
Another example of how some people get it all wrong when reading about FIRM's
objectives. Blair P. Houghton writes in a Newsgroup discussion
(misc.writing.screenplays): "He even cites Supreme Court case law regarding censorship
in an attempt to give credibility to his contention that there's a Cabal in Hollywood.
Basically, he's using the vacating of a law that censored films as a weapon to attempt
(to) censor films."
Unfortunately, Blair P. Houghton has poor reading comprehension skills. The Supreme
Court case (Burstyn v. Wilson) is not cited here at FIRM in support of any contention
that a "Cabal" exists in Hollywood, rather it is cited for the very important statement that
the motion picture is a significant medium for the communication of ideas. That concept
is central to our understanding of why it is necessary for all interests within our diverse
society to have a fair and equal opportunity to tell their important cultural stories through
this significant medium. Blair P. Houghton really exposes his inability to read and
comprehend by suggesting that somewhere in my writings, there is an attempt to censor
anyone. It's not there. I challenge him to support that false statement with evidence. I'm
not for censorship, but for more freedom, and freedom for all, not just a few. If that
bothers Blair P. Houghton, that's too bad.
Blank Shooting Blanks
2:08 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Blank Shooting Blanks
In so-called "Mr. Blank's" (another FIRM site Discussion Forum participant who is
unwilling to identify himself for fear of something not yet explained) submission of Friday,
June 5, he unfortunately continues to make a fundamental error in his assumptions about
the FIRM position. He states: "It's not like the idea that Hollywood is controlled by
Jews is anything new. If you don't have any new proof you don't have enough. I also
think you will not get anywhere simply blaming Jews." Here again, Mr. Blank fails to
make the important distinction between how FIRM defines the Hollywood control group
(i.e., politically liberal, not very religious Jewish males of European heritage) and Jews
generally. No where has FIRM made any statements regarding Jews generally. If Mr.
Blank overlooks that point, he is either not very intelligent or he is purposefully trying to
mislead people into believing that we are saying something we are not saying. Which is
it, Mr. Blank? Further, the very definition of the Hollywood control group is new. It is
more precise than anything offered by observers of the Hollywood scene in the past. It
is also supported by "proof" (see the discussion re "Who Really Controls Hollywood").
In addition, FIRM is not "simply blaming Jews". We are not even blaming the
Hollywood control group as narrowly defined for all of Hollywood's problems. There is
plenty of blame to go around. All other interests groups in our society, no matter how
defined, who have stood by and allowed a single, narrowly- defined interest group to
gain and maintain control over the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry should also
accept some of the blame. Our federal government should accept some of the blame for
allowing itself to be manipulated by Hollywood. All of those people who work or seek
to work in the film industry, but who do not have enough courage to stand up for what is
right, should accept some of the blame. All so-called mainstream journalists in America,
who allow themselves to be intimidated by the Hollywood establishment ought to accept
some of that blame. I don't think the people who control Hollywood are any different
than anyone else. If you allow someone to have power, they are likely to abuse it, and
they won't give it up voluntarily, you'll have to take it back.
Blank on Paramount Consent Decrees
2:11 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Blank on Paramount Consent Decrees
In answer to your question about the Paramount Consent Decrees. First, it was not a
single decree, but a series of decrees that were approved by the Supreme Court. Each
decree related to a different film company defendant, Paramount being just one of the
defendants. In any case, a judge was appointed to supervise the administration of these
decrees, and over the years, almost all of these individual film company defendants has
successfully appealed to the judge for relief from the provisions of the consent decrees at
one level or another. Then, during the Reagan era Presidency, the U.S. Justice
Department significantly relaxed its enforcement of the antitrust laws (particularly in the
film industry), and this combination of actions pretty much obliterated the consent decree
restrictions. Thus, vertical integration has returned to the film industry with a vengeance.
As you point out, not only have many of the major studio/distributors reacquired
ownership interests in exhibition chains, but they have also acquired ownership interests
in television networks, cable companies, video manufacturing companies, video retail
outlets, and so forth. Of course, in my humble opinion, anyone who thinks vertical
integration in the U.S. film industry is not anti-competitive doesn't have all of his oars in
the water. On the other hand, it's more of a political issue now, rather than legal. So
long as Hollywood is able to contribute millions to the Presidential campaigns of both
major parties, and to the Congressional races of key Congresspersons, and no one pays
any attention to the effect, it is not likely that the Justice Department's lax enforcement
policy will change. A great deal of this antitrust history is laid out in the book excerpt
posted elsewhere at the FIRM site as "Antitrust and Movies".
Message to Neal Gabler
2:15 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Message to Neal Gabler
The following message was recently sent by E-mail to author Neal Gabler via a magazine
that recently published an article about his book: "An Empire of Their Own--How the
Jews Invented Hollywood":
You were recently quoted in an LA Weekly article suggesting that the arguments being
made at the Film Industry Reform Movement site (http://homevideo.net/FIRM) are " . . .
as old as the movie business itself . . . " and that critics like me (John Cones) " . . . always
claim they are not anti-Semitic. They're just protecting America. But they're always
talking about the Jews."
Are these LA Weekly quotes accurate, and if so, where in my writings do you find
anything suggesting that I am "talking about the Jews", as opposed to the more narrowly
defined Hollywood control group which is clearly set out on the FIRM site? Also, where
does someone who has a reputation for being an intelligent individual get the idea that
they can falsely accuse someone else of being anti- Semitic when they are not?
We are waiting to see if Neal Gabler will respond?
re: Blank Shooting Blanks
4:52 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
I agree with the last half of your comments almost entirely. No, I'm not trying to
"misrepresent you". You may have come up with the unique name of "Hollywood
Control Group", but it's basically an old idea. I agree that our whole society is to blame
and we should all do something. Realistically, the reason why many do not do anything is
because the issues become so heated.
Houghton Wrong About Cabal
5:19 pm Tuesday June 9, 1998
Houghton Wrong About "Cabal"
Sometimes the misstatements of facts by others are quite subtle. In the same statement
by a Blair P. Houghton in a newsgroup discussion unrelated to the FIRM site (the same
quote referred to earlier and cited as an example of a false allegation relating to FIRM's
advocacy of censorship, which is simply not true), Houghton also claims that FIRM or I
contend "there's a Cabal in Hollywood". A cabal is a conspiratorial group of plotters or
intriguers; a secret scheme or plot. To form a cabal is to conspire. Thus, by falsely
alleging that FIRM or I contend "there's a Cabal in Hollywood" Houghton is making the
same old false argument that I believe there's a conspiracy at work in Hollywood, but he
is being very deceptive about it.
The fact is that the word "cabal" only appears twice in all of the postings online at the
FIRM site. Once it is used by attorney Pierce O'Donnell to describe the Hollywood
control group, and I quote his language, although I can't agree with the use of the specific
term "cabal" because it implies conspiracy, and I've never alleged a conspiracy. The
second time it appears, it is specifically being used to point out that we are not alleging a
Hollywood cabal or conspiracy. So how can we explain the error on the part of Blair P.
Houghton? He's either lazy, uninformed or dishonest, take your pick. Also, for those
who claim there's nothing new in FIRM's criticism of Hollywood, please shake off the
cobwebs that infect your minds, the fact that we are not alleging a conspiracy or a cabal
is new. As I've said before, we are concerned about behavior and results, and could
care less whether anyone's talking about their conduct behind closed doors.
re: Confronting Reality
2:55 am Wednesday June 10, 1998
Well, it's not so much the credited artists that are relatives. It's more so the executives
that don't get credits. Where I work they are all second or third generation. Often times
they own rights to old movies which tides them over between studio jobs. If they're not
Jewish then they have lived with Jews so long they could be. John is right that they're
typically not religious. Some times you see people with Jewish names and that seem to
be good enough. They don't care if you're Jewish as long as you have the right name!
Look at Whoopie Goldberg. It seems to be a kind of reaction to all the zillions of people
who come out here and trying to survive. Business wise by hiring people with
connections they expand their connections, but you wonder where it all leads? Self
preservation. Typically they don't like movies. They believe the worst things about
Americans, although sometimes they know they are out of touch.
Development is a joke. None of these movies get made unless they are developed in
tandem with a major actor. Typically they are bought on a impulse which is later
corrected. Some of them are plain kickbacks. They hire their girlfriends or nephew.
Lately they've even hired themselves. If you think the movies that get made are bad you
should see the ones that don't! Most of these executives don't seem to have a clue. They
hire writers who can't write for crap again and again. The few people who know what
they'e doing typically burn out, or don't pass anything on. Of course, this means the idea
of a control group is not entirely correct. No one is in "control" other than being able to
keep their job.
What is really scary to me is these companies are buying up everything. Most of the great
movies of the last generation were made by smaller or mid-sized companies and
eventually picked up by the majors. With all these companies gone things will get much
worse. The 1996 Act was only two years ago and you can see the affect already. That's
a permanent affect. If you have more companies then someone will fill the gaps, but
without them look out. By the time the audience notices there will be little response since
there's no competition.
Carlos de Abreau Sacrifices Interests of
7:12 am Wednesday June 10, 1998
Original Post: 12:14 pm Thursday June 4, 1998
Carlos de Abreau Sacrifices Interests of Independent
We now have the official word from Carlos de Abreau's
attorney Raymond Sutton, that the 400 or so accumulated questions
and answers, formerly posted at the Investor Financing Q&A on the
Hollywood Network web site, have been destroyed. Instead of
being willing to make that body of information relating to
investor financing of entertainment projects available to
independent filmmakers around the country, by transferring the
contents electronically to our newly established Investor
Financing Q&A site at http://www.homevideo/FIRM, Carlos de
Abreau, owner of the Hollywood Network site, opted instead to
simply delete those items. In his rush to comply with the
demands of the Hollywood establishment, not to associate with the
likes of John Cones, Carlos de Abreau chose to disregard the
interests of independent filmmakers all across the country, who
may have benefited from that accumulated information (posted over
the past several years). This irresponsible action on the part
of Carlos de Abreau ought to raise questions in the minds of many
reasonable observers of the Hollywood scene, as to exactly what
Carlos de Abreau is up to. Is he really concerned in the least
about the futures of independent filmmakers, or is he simply hell
bent on promoting his own future as a film producer to care about
who's interests get harmed along the way?
COVERAGE THEFT - Coming to a studio near
7:30 am Wednesday June 10, 1998
I thought I'd post this again here since some might be interested
in watching out for.... (in the standard voice-over of THE guy
that anounces almost ALL of the MPAA movie trailers)....
COVERAGE THEFT - coming to a studio near you!
It has always baffled me why the coverage on screenplays sent to
studios is so lengthy. I have seen many of these reports, called
"coverage," on various screenplays and they grow to many, many
pages, sometimes 5, 10 or 20 pages.
I asked myself why does it take 5 or 20 pages for one development
executive to tell another development exec that this script sucks
(or more rarely that this script is good)? Then, thinking this
over a little, I have come up with a theory as to what the
studios MAY be doing: stealing ideas from the people that do the
With tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of
screenplays coming in from their lap-dog agents, (the first and
second levels of legal insulation, i.e., writer to the agent,
signatory-agent to the studio, let's not mention agency to the
Guild), the 8 studios have a bunch of chicks and girlfriends they
call D-girls (the women never get any real jobs with any power,
as usual), read and write up this voluminous coverage.
Now that, over time, hundreds of thousands of writers' ideas have
been, in essence, sucked out of the hundreds of thousands of
literary properties read and "covered," the studios have
collectively created a huge database of "possibly marketable
concepts & ideas" (this coverage itself being a third level of
The "coverage database" (which is the coverage from the
sucked-dry writers from all over the world) can now be passed
around the various development divisions of the studio, or its
subsidiaries, or its contracted production companies (known as
"Companies with Studio Deals" in Section B of the Hollywood
Creative Directory) thus forming a fourth level of legal
Or, after the executives in the department have moved on (18
months being the average employment of a studio executive before
IT is dumped or IT gets sick of the studio and opts to be an
"independent" producer in Section B of above) and the new regime
moves in and sweeps the department clean of all the "crappy"
screenplays that its last "inept" management team placed into
development - the rights to these screenplays and/or the coverage
gets placed into turnaround at one of the oligopoly’s sister
studio - (perhaps to swash money around too in the process to
avoid taxation or to even-up deals between them) - one where all,
or part, of the old "inept" management team has NOW set up (a
fifth level of legal insulation).
Now well insulated from the claims of the "unsuspecting"
originating writers (who have been kept at a distance on the
other side of their WGAw-signatory agent all the way up the legal
chain to the final "Writer for Hire" at a turnaround-studio) -
armed with this insulation and
hundreds of thousands of pages in the coverage database, the
studios' top-brass sleep "easily" knowing that they have
successfully skimmed the "highest concepts" and leading ideas
from innocent and talented writers THE WORLD OVER. . . that is
sleep peacefully until, once in a blue moon, an Art Buchwald gets
pissed off and has the guts to say, "NO, I'm going to take these
bullies to court and sue them for stealing my intellectual
properties no matter how many years or decades it takes."
Bear in mind, I'm not saying the studios DO the above, but they
COULD BE. I need the help of all you "criminal minds" out there
to tell me where my logic breaks down here or I am missing
something through ignorance.
If you think my "theory" is even partially correct, maybe someone
should investigate. Maybe many of you. Maybe all you writers
out there should refuse to EVER send the MPAA
studios/distributors another screenplay for as long as you and/or
they exist and boycott the studios of your screenplays,
treatments and creative writing talents and then focus them onto
the independent production companies who will try harder, be more
appreciative of your talent and who can't afford to screw you and
then just say to you: "Sue me."
Maybe I better copyright this twice:
(c) 1998 Joe Goldenberg
All Rights Reserved
(c) 1998 Joe Goldenberg
All Rights Reserved
To: Ex-Hollywood Stars
6:48 am Friday June 12, 1998
Why don't some of you stars of "yesteryear," who have been used
by the studio or star system and then forgotten (or kicked out),
why don't you use the last dying ember of your celebrity to tell
your fans, would-be stars and the world, of the abuse you have
taken from the MPAA studio/distributors ever since you fell off
SO you got hooked on a drug called "Hollywood" - everyone in
America will understand and sympathize with you for having the
guts to talk openly and tell us how it is - save a few kids maybe
from the horror of a life filled with waste and rejection and
events, you probably know about that, we mere "ordinary people"
can't even imagine.
Don't just fade away (or pass away) and let the great movies you
made, in spite of a corrupt system, be your only legacy. Think
about how many young girls leave for Hollywood because they saw
YOU in a movie and want to be JUST LIKE YOU - but instead end up
sick and broken, prostituting on Hollywood Boulevard.
Be responsible. Go-public with the real risks and rewards of the
industry, even if you don't agree with everything said in this
forum. Read us a few scenes from your life-movie.
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