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August 16 2010

Syfy breaks silence, denies former 'Buffy' star's claim. 'Human Relations' is not derivative of 'Drones' in any way, cable channel says.

To be honest, it's not the one line version of the concept that makes the movie or show, it's the characters and how the concept is worked out. Otherwise, half the sitcoms on US television could be considered plagiarism as they can be discribed as "fat man and wife make 'jokes'".

Edit: that said, I don't know the details on this, so maybe I'm just wrong.

[ edited by Mitholas on 2010-08-16 20:47 ]
My initial thoughts were, never make accusations unless you have inctrovertible proof- which I think Amber never had. I think she responded emotionally, and I think in the long run, this will hurt her future efforts.
I'm hoping this is the beginning of a serious wind-down on this issue.

I liked the nod to Amber at the end but the statement & article as wholes didn't sound so great towards her. I hope I'm imagining that because her career is of great "fan-interest" to me.
It has basically always seemed that it was likely a case of things blown out of proportion. Mostly thanks to the combined issues of Amber having an understandable knee jerk reaction and then making the mistake of posting her blogs without properly researching anything whilst making some pretty serious accusations, the other creator was obviously upset as well, and the power of the interent making it into a much bigger deal than than it ever was.

It's highly likely that the projects will bare no more than a basic similarity in concepts just as you can draw comparisons Torchwood, Sanctuary Warehouse 13 and The X Files, for example and they are very different from each other in anything other than a tiny synopsis.
Um...I don't think Amber's reaction was overly emotional. That is going in the direction of all kinds of less-than-feminist language that I don't want to see here of all place. She handled it very professionally and said the fans would decide for themselves. And in other news, no one's names was dragged through as the Syfy representative had postured.

Finally, I do think it was mostly a coincidence.
I feel like this guy from SyFy is full of it. He denies them having programming that's slightly tweaked versions of other things, even though half their programming is films from The Asylum.
If Ambers script is copyrighted prior to "Human Relations"(or vice versa) it doesn
t matter if the other writer came up with it independantly. The hook is very specific and sci-fi should look into rectifying the situation rather than trying to reason their way out of it. (I once had a slightly simular script idea of a car testing facility where the crash test dummies where alive and could communicate with each other, well knowing that someday soon they would all come to a sudden demise.)
Um...I don't think Amber's reaction was overly emotional. That is going in the direction of all kinds of less-than-feminist language that I don't want to see here of all place. She handled it very professionally and said the fans would decide for themselves. And in other news, no one's names was dragged through as the Syfy representative had postured.


I think it was "emotional" not from a "less than feminist" perspective, but because she's someone who is clearly passionate about her work and got understandably upset that someone might have been stealing it and reacted without thinking it through. From my POV she and Adam certainly meant to imply plagerism without having any actual proof or talking to SyFy before posting, which I don't think was professional, even if they did say "make up your own minds".

Anyway lets hope this is the complete last of this issue. There's no garantee of "Human Relations" even being ordered to pilot yet, let alone series.
Yeah, my first thought was "Oh great, this again" but the tenor of this article is more "They're not that similar, he didn't rip anyone off, let's try to put it behind us" which is exactly what should happen IMO. It never should've taken place on the internet in the first place and I really hope Sci-Fi are sincere that this won't affect 'Human Relations' chances of making it to series.

As to Amber, IMO she leapt before she looked, acted without thinking it through or, apparently, making much effort to find out the full facts first (by e.g. contacting the creator of 'Human Relations' privately before posting to her blog). That has nothing to do with feminism, it's to do with being rash (which is an option all too available to either sex).
Yeah, I too don't see Amber's reaction in terms of her sex. That's like saying ethnic minorities can only vote one way, or like certain foods more than others. There's even a term for it. It's called stereotyping.

Her reaction was human and understandable. She may have been mistaken or ill-informed. We'll see.

[ edited by quantumac on 2010-08-16 23:40 ]
What I said is being misinterpreted. People are both here and in the article are describing Amber as emotional. Protective? Yes. Emotional, I don't think so. If this was a male person, no one would have used the word emotional.
Although she is female, every utterance doesn't need to be cast in light of 'feminism'.
marvelknight

I normally don't get much into labels, but I do understand that the word "emotional" has sexist overtones to it.

Still, not sure what is a good word to use. I don't like protective, just because as an uninformed observer it seems like she cut off her ability to have this movie shown on Syfy down the road.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-17 01:29 ]
Um...I don't think Amber's reaction was overly emotional. That is going in the direction of all kinds of less-than-feminist language that I don't want to see here of all place.

Dude, don't go around implying people are sexist simply because they use the word 'emotional'. That's the kind of post I don't want to see here of all places. The fact that you somehow managed to interpret Heavs' comment as an attack on females' emotionality is your deal, not Heavs'
There are valid points for both sides of the word choice argument. That said, I think we've aired it plenty now, and I'd like to see this thread get back to the original topic.
I only read one of Amber's original blog posts, and I thought it was pretty professional, in conveying a message along the lines of, "this is what it looks like from our perspective; based on the evidence available it doesn't look good." Seems to me this is a hazard (benefit/downside?) of the constantly-connected Internet-media culture: we get occasional glimpses of less-than-tidy aspects of the biz (and did I use enough hyphens there?)... we can see some of what goes on behind the curtain before the official corporate press releases go out. Not to say that anyone should just post unfiltered whatever they're thinking! Just that not everything we see will be totally poised & polished... If that made any sense.
Dude, don't go around implying people are sexist simply because they use the word 'emotional'. That's the kind of post I don't want to see here of all places. The fact that you somehow managed to interpret Heavs' comment as an attack on females' emotionality is your deal, not Heavs'

Actually, I'm not a "dude," so thanks, and it was not my intention to attack heavs. In fact, my response was almost solely based on the attitude of this article and the Syfy rep. (And if that's all someone read than I could see why one would have that opinion.) I read Amber's initial posting, which was very professional. Her fans are the ones who hyped almost all of this up. My opinions on the issue are more based on the source (Amber's original post) not the summary this article provides, which seems skewed to me. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, sex and language are at play in this story and thread. I don't appreciate people attacking me for voicing my perspective on how this story has played out.
No one is attacking you marvelknight.
No miri that makes complete sense. I think what we're seeing here on this board is a cautionary tale on why people need to be selective in what they choose to say, especially when there are people interested in what you say.

I think Joss is a good template to use. When he interfaces with the fandom, he tends to do it in a jocular manner. If he has axes to grind, at worst you can try to read between the lines, but I don't think I've seen him make comments during the incident transpiring although he arguably has a huge opportunity to do it if he wants.

Lets face it, the last few posts he had that I remember: funny interview, funny questions "asked" by Drew, and I think it was a "funny" list of things he was thankful for. I could be wrong on that last one though. There's nothing there but maybe a plug in one and an attempt to get people to chuckle. Kudos.

And the only time I've ever seen him truly angry in words, was the time a particularly nasty fan was attacking the talented Ms. Noxon.

I just think it's something everyone can learn from. Use the internet to build relationships, but never try to use it as a weapon.

And yes, the air has gotten rather combative in here.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-17 04:35 ]
I felt Amber's posts on the subject have been level-headed and professional. However, a good many responses from fans to her posts had veered off into realms that I would term emotional...and I think it's those responses which have blended with her remarks in the minds of many.

I also don't think her concerns should be so blithely dismissed by SyFy. Perhaps Human Relations is not intentionally derivative of Drones...but the initial press releases most certainly came across as veritable recyclings of the Drones PR, which would indicate creative laziness at best, and an ethical lapse at worst, on behalf of someone in the network's marketing department. It was those press releases which triggered Amber's concern...rightly, I believe.
Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, sex and language are at play in this story and thread.

In this story? Not according to anyone actually involved - ie. those who would be in a position to actually know - at least not as far as I am aware (and I think I would've heard about it or noticed it myself by now if that were the case.)

But in this thread? yes - as of comment #5.


I don't appreciate people attacking me for voicing my perspective on how this story has played out.


I wasn't aware that questioning someone's opinion, especially when expressed in a public forum (as in the word 'forum'), was in any way an objectionable or unusual activity.

Of course, I was also under the impression that emotions were common to all genders - all three to be exact.

But what do I know...
I've already asked once that the topic be dropped. Any other exchanges about it, especially the personal kind, should be taken elsewhere.
In this story? Not according to anyone actually involved - ie. those who would be in a position to actually know - at least not as far as I am aware (and I think I would've heard about it or noticed it myself by now if that were the case.)

Per Sunfire's request, I will ignore the personal comment you made, but I would ask everyone who hasn't to please read the original blog post.

An excerpt:
"Now I can't say that they ripped our film off because we all know that people do think up similar, competing ideas at the same time (think VOLCANO vs. DANTE'S PEAK or not...they're both pretty terrible), but it just seems rather odd that our trailer premiered exclusively on the SyFy channel's website in January and now, six-ish months later, they're making a TV show with an intriguingly similar plot."

If you don't care to read the article, Amber continues to say she does not believe anyone ripped off her idea. She does think it sucks that these ideas are surfacing at the same time. I feel this article misrepresents both of these stances, and I don't think its fair that people are blaming her for anything because I don't believe she did anything wrong. Logically, if her fans brought this to her attention, she would be expected to make a statement. And she did.

EDIT: And to further my point, the title of both of these articles are dramatic. "Syfy Breaks Silence, Denies Former Buffy Star's Claim" is the title of the article in question. The story never actually states the "claim," and all of Amber's quotes that do not come from her blog post are given with little to no context.

[ edited by marvelknight616 on 2010-08-17 06:13 ]
Here's the problem marvel, it's not so much that quote. It's this one.

Not that I'm saying anyone stole their idea I'm just postulating a possibility, a conspiracy theory conjecture, if you will. I don't know the guys writing/producing HUMAN RELATIONS and I have not read the script, so I can't say there is any wrong doing. I just think it's a bit...coincidental.


That she disclaims that she is making an allegation does not change the fact that the implication is there if one chooses to read it that way. If I said to someone, "I'm not saying your a thief, but that vase looks remarkably similar to one I lost about a month ago", very few people would NOT see that as an accusation. My concern with it, was that I disagree that you need to address your fans concerns on this at all. Especially when you're freely admitting you haven't read the script.

I might have said something slightly witty to the effect of, "I'm checking into Human Relations." That is all the fan really needs to know until either you find actual evidence of plagiarism and you pursue it or there's nothing and you write a funny story about finding out.

People are rightly very concerned about their names in Hollywood. When you loosely imply that a scriptwriter is stealing ideas, this is what happens. A response will be made because it has to be. SyFy had to investigate the claim (cover themselves) and defend the writer (cover the reputation).

[ edited by azzers on 2010-08-17 07:18 ]
Yeah I think azzers' pretty much got it bang on. When you have a reputation and you have a lot of fans, be careful what you write on the internet. Common sense innit. Even if Human Relations had later been found to be actual plagiarism, pursuing such a thing in a public forum is still pretty unwise.
The problem here is as with the original issue i.e. people are forming an opinion without all the facts. There's a lot more to it than Amber's original post. Here's roughly how it played out for anyone that actually wants to avail themselves of ALL the information:

Amber's original post (and the comment thread on here to go with it).
The first Airlock Alpha article with Scott Prendergast's initial response.
Another article from 'The Wrap' by Amber and/or Adam (and the thread on here to go with it).
Amber's second post (the comments to go with are in the thread above).
The second Airlock Alpha article (with Amber - again, responses to it are in the thread above).

Careful readers (who haven't committed ritual suicide from boredom ;) will note (thanks to moley75) that on the night of Saturday 31st July (i.e. after her original blog post and possibly after the first Airlock Alpha article) Scott Prendergast actually tweeted Amber asking her to get in touch, presumably so they could sort it out in private. That seems not to have happened since she kept posting in public about it (after his first response he - quite sensibly and possibly due to legal advice - stopped commenting on it in public).

If you don't care to read the article, Amber continues to say she does not believe anyone ripped off her idea. She does think it sucks that these ideas are surfacing at the same time.

I've read not only that article but all the others too (been following this from the start in all its depressing, trainwreck-esque detail). I agree her original post can be read that way (although it could also be read as possibly implying plagiarism). Read the various posts/articles following though where she says a few times she doesn't think anyone ripped her off while at the same time implying in several places, in several ways that in fact, that's exactly what happened (talking of " 'strange' coincidences" for example - and those're her inverted commas by the way i.e. as if to imply it's not actually strange or a coincidence, it's something else. Or questioning and in at least one instance, misrepresenting Prendergast's account of the various significant dates in the development of the show).

The best read on it as a fan of Amber's is that she's been a bit rash, responded too quickly (with almost no facts and only a three or four line synopsis to go on) out of a very understandable urge to protect her and her friends/colleagues hard work and then dug a progressively deeper hole with subsequent posts/articles. IMO she could've (and should've) handled it much better and certainly initially, not in public.
Hey, just noticed Sunfire is now yellow. Yay!! Even though I have no idea what that means, congrats anyway!

That she disclaims that she is making an allegation does not change the fact that the implication is there if one chooses to read it that way. If I said to someone, "I'm not saying your a thief, but that vase looks remarkably similar to one I lost about a month ago", very few people would NOT see that as an accusation. My concern with it, was that I disagree that you need to address your fans concerns on this at all. Especially when you're freely admitting you haven't read the script.


Yes, that's what I was getting at, you can't have titles such as "SyFy Pilot in Suspiciously Close Orbit to Our Indie Film" and not want people to draw conclusions, whatever disclaimers there are. And the fact that you then admit you have no idea if they're that simiar or not...not particularly wise, even though it is understandable that she'd be worry and want to investigate, it should have been done privately and certainly not on "The Wrap".

I suppose when all's said and done both projects got some publicity and as long as it doesn't affect "Human Relations" chances, there's no real harm done. I guess it certainly suddenly became the most well known out of that particular list.

[ edited by Heavs on 2010-08-17 10:35 ]

[ edited by Heavs on 2010-08-17 10:39 ]
Let me go backto what I originally said. No matter the rightness or wrongness of Amber's position (and I, a major fan of hers with several autographed items by her, think she made a big mistake here), in the end what this has done is likely affect her future ability to find outlets for her work. This is the kind of thing that follows you. We need to get past parsing language to figure out whether or not she was casting accusations; there is no question that is what she was doing by hiding it with some tempering language. But she is looking for someone to pick up movie rights for her Calliope Reaper-Jones series, and she still wishes to act (though she has admitted her future is less likely to involve acting).

In this case, I completely agree with saje's comment (OMG!).

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2010-08-17 12:57 ]
"A charming smuggler and the banged up old ship he so loves leap from one job to the next to try and keep away from the evil clutches of an intergalactic Empire.".

A Han Solo series? You might think so until you watched Firfly.

Amber should have kept mum on this until we'd seen more.
In this case, I completely agree with saje's comment (OMG!).

I think I just felt the Earth judder to a halt ;-).
Sci-Fi Channel:

"... We pride ourselves in our professional integrity ..."

[Norm MacDonald]"And then to immediately set forth on re-running 'Annonymous Rex' and making 'Mansquito 2', so..."[/Norm MacDonald]


http://www.trhonline.com/scifichannel/
Gee, being away from here has advantages sometimes; I totally missed all this...while not missing it at all.

Thanks for the recap, Saje. I can understand the frustration of Amber and Adam's position, but they really handled this badly...and unprofessionally. I would not be surprised if there were some long lasting negative repercussions for everyone in this...except SciFY.
No worries. And yeah, I also hope she hasn't made a rod for her own back with the whole thing (as if being an indie film writer/director/producer wasn't hard enough to begin with).

Still, they do say there's no such thing as bad publicity (personally I think "they"'re full of it in that regard but "they" may well be right, there's certainly a lot of "them" ;).
The collective unconscious is a b*tch especially on an over-populated planet.

If you have a fresh idea there is a very strong chance that idea will pop up in someone else's mind simultaneously. It's what you do with the idea and how quickly you do it that ends up being the real issue.
Thing is, this isn't so much publicity as it is poking the establishment, which tends to poke back.

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