HOLLYWOOD CHILLS

A glimpse into one actor/writer's life in La-La Land. Part lampoon, part harpoon, all good.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY


It appears that I and my comedy partner Kali, of Yuckfest Productions, are too good. That's the teaser; but let me first give you the back story. For the last few years, Kali has produced a number of original sketches and scripts on 16mm film. I'm in many of them, and can honestly say they have graced the VCR's of her entire family (and the ocassional television executive's desk and film festival). With the advent of video sharing sites on the web, Kali decided to promote us and upload our work onto YouTube, Revver, eFoof and such. Within hours of our first voyage into cyber-pimping we had over 3,000 hits on "In Search Of Pussy," "Cookie and Company," and "I'm not J Lo."


Now, you'll notice "I'm not J Lo" is not linked. This is, in part, due to recent legal snafus. It appears that various interested parties in Hollywood are ignorant of U.S. Parody law, the titllating part of entertainment that specifically allows performers to poke fun of, make fun of, and use the likeness of anyone - the only caveat being that it is clear that you're not attempting to actually portray said celeb or politico, not attributing any dialgoue to them, and not claiming that any of their protected properties were written, directed, or produced by you and not said party. (Whew - legalese is tough.) Confused? You shouldn't be. It's actually very clear; and it's why Saturday Night Live could do their infamous Star Trek sketches and their many poltical impersonations. (Dana Carvey owes his Malibu home and hair plugs to this law.) And yet, YouTube and Revver have both shied away from presenting the J Lo and Stepford Wives parodies because of copyright infringement. Actually we got a great letter stating that executives from Paramount itself wrote asking us to "cease and decist."


It just so happens that this isn't my first cease & decist order; it's actually my third. Number one came to my college dormitory doorway back in 1988. (Don't you DARE do the mental math!) I was then the President of the Gay & Lesbian Student Union at the University of Florida and had used the likeness of Calvin & Hobbes. This is as fraternities did, and still do, to promote events and membership. It appears that Universal Press Syndicate and Bill Waterson had no problems having their material used on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and car decals by big, beer-swilling brothers; but that they didn't take too kindly to their adorable Calvin being used on one tiny poster by gay and lesbian, straight-A students. My second legal notification was bigger and better - Twentieth Centruy Fox ordered R&R Productions of Miami to stop producing its gender-bending X-Files parodies (The XXY Files) in which I starred as Dana Scally. These admittedly awful, amateurish B-videos could never have been mistaken for the read deal and were in no way infringing on Fox's rights. But, they did make 180,000 people laugh (no small number by 1994's standards) and get us invited to a flurry of film festivals.


While I'm mortified at the thought of anyone actually visiting the old XXY Files site, I am extremely proud of the work I've done with Kali and Yuckfest. The films are well written, funny, and beautifully shot. Which brings us to the next plot point, the humorous twist in all of this business. YouTube and Revver both pulled the teasers for our comedy pilots, "Cookie and Company" and "In Search of Pussy" because they mistakenly identified them as a REAL trailers! What a laugh and pat on the back Kali and received when we opened those e-mails. The executives stated that the work was "obviously professional" and "too good" to have been made by "amateurs." We agreed that we were not "amateurs," and so we did a brief dance in which we we were able to prove that these "television quality" pilots were, indeed, created by none other than little Kali and me and they were immediately reposted on the web. The folks at Revver were actually quite helpful and apologetic. But Kali and I weren't upset; instead we were tickled, and have added these letters to our portfolio, proudly displaying them like tribal warriors showing off battlescars or the hides of a well-killed buffalo. We hope you'll laugh, too, and that you'll share the story with all your friends by directing them to YouTube and Revver and by forwarding this story with the handy little button at the bottom of this posting.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Leeloo said...

Good for you and Kali!

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why aren't you guys on TV? I want more!

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Miguel said...

I have a loud and thunderous "HUUU-AAHHH!!!" for you both. You two are my heroes.

Miguel

6:51 PM  
Anonymous EMC said...

Way to go RLB. You and Kali are on your way. Did you see the news about Lance? It looks like the queer/straight odd couple remake is already in the works!

I can say I knew you when....

Dr. Frankenfurter, XXY Files, Part II.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous An Experienced Critic said...

Yuckfest's clips are great! I was impressed at what excellent parodies they were. The casting and acting are exquisite. Very creative, very entertaining, and very professional!

7:08 PM  

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