MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Oscar Watch?

As I just wandered into EW’s attempt to knock off my video interview franchise (smart… and they spend more on production… which is lovely… and interestingly, have only seemed to have gotten the specific talent that I have not…), more sad was seeing Dave Karger’s award blog called “Oscar Watch,” which is the name that The Academy forced Sasha Stone to give up just a year or so ago.
How is it that a major media company is openly allowed to infringe on Academy copyright while Ms Stone’s independent site is not? It is inexcusable.
I only wish that I had the money to give Sasha to litigate the issue with The Academy and then to go up against EW for the infringement, which clearly trades on Sasha’s years of built up goodwill.
I have nothing against EW or Dave Karger (a guru) or anyone at Time-Warner. But I am a fan of fairness, felt that The Academy pressing its claim against Sahsa – as it once had against a secton of MCN – was reasonable on their part, and that giving up the name was the right choice for her. But not when some bigger outlet gets to walk in and steal the name, generic as it is, that she squatted on and built before anyone else was clever enough to do so. That just isn’t right.

52 Responses to “Oscar Watch?”

  1. FYI, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t EW using the “Oscar Watch” moniker in their awards preview issues long before Sasha came along? That’s not to say that she wasn’t put in an unfair position by the Academy when the shit hit the fan regarding her site — she certainly was, and EW should be held to the same standard. But I wouldn’t say Tim Warner is infringing on or stealing anything.
    Also, by the logic presented in your opening graph, did you knock off Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, Pat Sajak, etc., etc.?

  2. *Make that TIME Warner.

  3. mysteryperfecta says:

    I’ve subscribed to EW off and on for years, and also remember seeing their use of “Oscar Watch” for quite a while.
    And count me among those confused as to how anyone doing video interviews is ripping off your idea.

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    Er, David… When I was free-lancing for MSNBC.com 12 goddmamn years ago, the website ran videos of my interviews with celebs online. Later, I did on-line, downstream-able video interviews for Yahoo! And even way back then, I knew I was just one of, oh, I dunno, dozens of folks doing the same thing. I realize you think the sun rises and sets on your website, but if you want to argue that EW is knocking off your video franchise… well, you sound a tad bit silly. Unless you were joking. That’s it, right? You were joking, right?

  5. T. Holly says:

    I’d argue that noone else has done, and noone else is doing, 35 minute unedited video interviews, so rock on Dave, they can always be cut down later.

  6. Hallick says:

    Personally, I always preferred Zach Galifianakis’ franchise to either of yours, but that’s just a matter of taste.

  7. martin says:

    I haven’t watched the interviews on EW.com, no interest. But Dave’s web-style video interviews are unique in their own way. So it’s not entirely out there to say that others have “copied” his style of interviews.

  8. sashastone says:

    Thanks, DP for being one of the few people who noticed. While it’s true that EW and every other magazine and newspaper for quite some time (Anne Thompson uses it, Hollywood Reporter, etc.) I had most definitely branded the term Oscarwatch.com. It isn’t just putting two words together – it was the one word together – and moreover, it was the URL they supposedly objected to. Karger and EW are using the term in their URL and the Academy doesn’t give a damn.
    I really don’t care anymore, though – the new name is working out okay.
    Happy New Year.

  9. jeffmcm says:

    Well, I learned something new today, although it still raises the question:
    Not even minimal editing? Like to cut out the boring bits?

  10. mysteryperfecta says:

    “It isn’t just putting two words together – it was the one word together”
    I don’t understand this– it most decidedly looks to me like you simply put two words together. Its not possible to put spaces in a URL, and I think everyone would interpret it as separate words, “Oscar Watch dot com” Is omitting the space between words supposed to be a loophole?
    “it was the URL they supposedly objected to.”
    Having a dedicated site does seem to be one step further than EW having a reoccuring article as a subsection of their magazine/website. Of course, EW has now taken that step with “http://oscar-watch.ew.com/” It does seem like a double-standard.

  11. Hallick says:

    “But Dave’s web-style video interviews are unique in their own way. So it’s not entirely out there to say that others have ‘copied’ his style of interviews.”
    I have to disagree and say it’s pretty much WAY out there. I’ve seen it done before. And you can HEAR it being done in podcasts all over the place. I also own a 12″ Pixies interview record with Black Francis that was made back in the early 90’s that’s the exact same thing, sans video.
    Then again, maybe Dave’s humor was just having a dry spell and he’s been misunderstood.

  12. T. Holly says:

    Yes mcm, not even minimal. Look who’s blasting the editing of “The Reader.” Can that movie please be stopped from getting a single award? It is so patronizing and garish and even paints survivors as haughty and makes an ass out of doe-eyed Ralph Fiennes. Combine that with the supporting lead actress losing her power to the boy she rapes, and her using the “what would you have done?” tricky confused defense with cut aways to her shocked lawyer. Couldn’t they have dropped the banal secrets theme in favor of some interesting symbolism and parallels? Give “The Reader” The Worst Adaptation Ever Award, whether or not it stayed faithful to the book. If they can’t wear arm bands in Valkyrie, then The Kid in The Reader can at least wear an eyepatch.

  13. I’ve found Karger’s site strange and still find myself typing in “oscarwatch” to go to Sasha’s site and ending up at Karger’s site.

  14. anghus says:

    yes, because “oscar watch” is such an original phrase, there’s no way anyone could have come up with that other than plagaristic stealing practices.
    As for interviewing filmmakers and talent and putting it on the web, yes, you were also the first. The concept of speaking to someone about a movie and recording the video and audio on tape is also an original concept.
    On a related note, i coined the phrase “Pardon my French” and would like the proper respect i deserve.

  15. sashastone says:

    I never said it was original. Quite the opposite. But because I got there early and built the thing up over time (ten years almost) it was the time readers had come to identify themselves and the site with – not OSCAR, but Oscarwatchers – people who watch the Oscars. It became it’s own thing rather than a headline to cue readers that a column on Oscars was coming. I am not arguing whether that was right or wrong – so let’s say it’s wrong. The Academy was right and they have every right to use the word Oscar – why then are they allowing EW to use Oscarwatch the way I did, as the URL and name?
    Now, it is being branded exactly as it was when I used it only because it’s corporate owned and they have lawyers and money no one does anything about it. And for the record, there were a lot of groups telling me to fight it – Public Citizen was willing to take it on but even as a pro bono case it would have cost a lot of money, which I didn’t have nor would I ever spend on such a thing; in the end, it didn’t mean that much to me – I knew I could rebrand fairly easily because guess what? In the end, it wasn’t really the name at all, which is what I said all along.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    A serious question: Did The Band’s Vsiit get a fleeting NY and LA release in late 2007 to qualify for Oscars? I would consider it a 2008 release — well, in the US, at least — but I don’t see it on any ten best lists. And, frankly, I can’t believe I’m the only critic in the US of A who thought it one of the past year’s very best movies.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    Never mind: I see it opened Dec. 7, 2007 in NY and LA. My bad.

  18. Roman says:

    Roger Ebert considers this to be a 2008 release too, Joe and it’s on his list.
    I’m with you on that by the way. Finally caught it – great film.

  19. jeffmcm says:

    Let me add one more to that chorus. All these months later, The Band’s Visit absolutely lingers.

  20. anghus says:

    you know, the more i thought about this post, the more clear it became.
    film websites, award shows, its just starfucking.
    and the people who make their living off of it are starfuckers.
    you might be a blatant cocksucking starfucker like the HFPA, or you could put a lot thought and analysis into the science behind choosing nominees, but all that makes you is an intellectual starfucker.
    There’s nothing more amusing listening to starfuckers getting riled up over other starfuckers. You’re not arguing over creation, you’re arguing over technique, as if to say “sure, people have always been fucking them, but i was the one who introduced the reverse cowgirl.”

  21. Joe Leydon says:

    So those of us who read the film websites or watch the awards shows… We’re voyeurs?

  22. anghus says:

    You hit the nail on the head Joe.
    If you eliminated all these websites, all this analysis, all this hyperbole and hubris, you’d still have stars, you’d still have movies, you’d still have award shows.
    those of us who dig into the details, who like the dirty underbelly of this business, we are absolutely voyeurs. None of this makes watching films more enjoyable. This kind of stuff is like cinematic fantasy football. it’s no required to watch the game, but it delivers another level of enjoyment for people who look beyond wins and losses. Still, it’s pornographic in nature, because what it says of us is “what we see is not enough”. It takes more to get us off.

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, I don’t completely agree with you Anghus, but I admit: I do sometimes wonder if we (all of us) are too eager to learn too much about movies before they’re released. See, I’m convinced that in the case of a movie like Valkyrie, much of the critical response (and most of the blog postings) are informed by wide knowledge of reshoots, release date changes, etc. (To say nothing of an inexplicable and illogical antipathy toward Tom Cruise in many circles.) If Singer and Cruise had somehow managed to start work on Valkyrie — oh, I dunno, maybe last June, and then raced it through post-production to make a predetermined December 2008 release date, I wonder how very different the response might have been. I mean, the diehard Cruise haters would never cut the guy a break. But we wouldn’t be reading so much about the “troubled” production history, right? And what difference will that “troubled” production history make in the long run? Does anybody but film historians give a damn these days about the re-shoots and re-writes for Casablanca and The Big Sleep and Annie Hall?

  24. anghus says:

    Joe. as i get older, i firmly believe that all this sound and fury about films does little to enhance the enjoyment of watching them. In fact, i firmly believe it detracts from the experience. It was great when DVD first came out, and you could see filmmaker interviews and behind the scenes featurettes of how the magic was created.
    The key is, you saw it AFTER you had already seen the film. There’s nothing wrong with lifting the curtain after the performance, but if you watched an hour documentary on how Gollum was created, would the experience of seeing him for the first time in The Two Towers have been the same.
    I can say with utmost certainty that it would not.
    The less i know about a film before i see it, the more i enjoy the experience. Not the film, per se, but the experience.
    There’s a reason they call them spoilers Joe.

  25. Joe Leydon says:

    Anghus, along those lines: Can you imagine was a thrill it must have been for people who saw Hithcock’s Psycho during the first or second week of its theatrical release back in 1960? I can recall the experience of seeing The Usual Suspects at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival, back before everybody knew about the final twist — back before everybody knew there was a twist, period — and thoroughly relishing the surprise. Back in the pre-Internet Era…

  26. anghus says:

    Joe, totally agree. Or seeing Sixth Sense without knowing the ending. What are the odds of that happening ever again?
    What i often have to remind myself is even the online component of the film world makes up a small percentage of the filmgoing audience, but it creeps into other areas.
    My wife reads garbage like Perez Hilton, and he’ll post spoiler stuff from film sites all the time. Every once in awhile, she’ll say something like “have you heard about how poorly the first screening of Valkyrie went?”
    It used to be just for the pornographic cinephiles, but as sites link content, it begins to creep into the mainstream.
    And it doesn’t do a thing to enhance the experience prior to seeing the movie. It’s interesting to hear the stories after, but before will immediately skew expectations one way or the other.
    The internet has not helped film as an art. If anything, it has detracted from the experience. It has dulled the luster and magic of the cinema, but reality has a tendency to do that.
    If i had to pick, i’d say the internet and cell phones are arguably the finest examples of things that are ruining the movie going experience.

  27. martin says:

    I agree Anghus, but if the choice was “better movie-going experience” or “cellphones and internet”, I’d have to choose the latter.

  28. Joe Leydon says:

    OK, Anghus: I am being totally serious and respectful, not trying to be snarky: What would you suggest? That we stop reading spoiler-infested blogs like, say, Hollywood Elsewhere? Or all blogs, even this one? Trouble is, as you suggest, the TMI factor already has spilled into MSM film coverage as well. And as for trailers, well… Here’s something I wrote about that almost a decade ago.
    http://articles.latimes.com/1999/jul/04/entertainment/ca-52731

  29. christian says:

    Film ignorance can be bliss. You know Wells is a fuckin’ infant who lives to spoil, so skim on. I actually don’t read spoiler-infested blogs. Until I’ve seen the film. I saw not any footage from THE DARK KNIGHT until I finally watched it for the first time — last week. Now I have 18567 reviews to read.

  30. Joe Leydon says:

    Christian: Smart move. I avoided Kill Bill, Part 1 during its theatrical run, and put off watching the DVD until a few hours before an evening preview screening of Part 2. That way, I managed to in effect see one long movie with an intermission.

  31. christian says:

    I read the early KILL BILL script before it came out, so I was happy there were changes so I could be surprised. I started reading INGLORIOUS BASTERDS then said, hell, I want to see this unfold.

  32. Joe Leydon says:

    OK, I know this may sound like a weird qustion, but: I wonder if Tarantino misspelled Bastards not to be hip/clever, but as a purely practical move. I mean, think about it: How much hassle would he get from TV networks over spots for a movie with the word spelled properly? (Of course, I don’t think he’s going to entirely avoid the problem, especially in newspapers ads, but never mind.)

  33. anghus says:

    Honestly Joe, there’s a part of me that wishes i could go back to a day and age where i didn’t frequent a half dozen sites and know everything about every film coming out, but once you’re in, it’s hard to be out. Through the internet and my own writing, i’ve become friends with so many people in the industry and frequented so many sites that it’s nearly impossible for me not to hear all this. I’ve taken breaks from the net before, but the truth is i kind of like it.
    It’s like fast food. It’s bad for me. I’m painfully aware that it is, but i still enjoy it too much to stop.
    Some films buck the trend. I knew everything about the Dark Knight before it came out. I had read the script. I knew every spoiler. And still, the film kicked my ass. So it’s not all bad.
    I think my issue with “i came up with oscar watch” is the hypocrisy. One starfucker claiming another starfucker is taking their starfucking idea.
    You can put lipstick on it, but it’s nothing more than a variation on starfucking.
    As for your thought on trailers Joe, i agree, though i think to a degree trailers can still have scrutiny and interpretation and analys (at least the ones that don’t give everything away). Spoilers and internet chatter about plot points are often times spot on (depending on the source)
    As for people reading Hollywood Elsewhere… i don’t think i could reccomend anyone reading Wells and not feel dirty about it. He’s the worst kind of sycophantic starfucker, the one who revels in it. The one who thinks he’s more than a starfucker, someone who believes himself to be part of the creative process of the film industry rather than the tapeworm that he is. Finke is another fine example. She sucks enough industry cock to get loads of inside information shot in her eye, and she believes that the news she spits out of her gullet is the lubricant that keeps the gears of the film industry moving.

  34. Cadavra says:

    Joe, I doubt the misspelling is intentional, for two reasons:
    1) It wouldn’t help. You think print and TV would accept ads for a movie called, say, GO FUKK YOURSELF?
    2) I read the IB script, and there are at least a dozen misspellings on every single page, some so bad I can’t even tell what word he was going for. It may well be true that, as he said, it doesn’t HAVE to be spelled correctly as long as the actors read the lines correctly, but still…

  35. byanyother says:

    Anghus, please tell me there isn’t a tower and a rifle shop anywhere near you. Looks like you need some cock-sucking and fucking your ownself. Is little Anghus dry and lonely?

  36. jeffmcm says:

    Jeez, where did that come from? Especially since Anghus is essentially right.

  37. Joe Leydon says:

    Cadavra: Well, they allowed ads for Meet the Fockers, right?

  38. Cadavra says:

    Yes, but “focker” is not a homonym.

  39. christian says:

    In Well’s defense, his post about leaving a cowboy hat behind for room collateral is the funniest thread I’ve read online in 2008. Happy New Year!

  40. LexG says:

    Christian, that was a winner, but I’m kind of partial to the two weeks of posts griping about the holidays and having to visit family, etc. The best was actually titled “Annual Suffering.” Just everything has that awesome, downcast, miserably negative tone, which is even funnier when you consider surely his family knows what he does, and must sit there reading the guy complaining about having to spend time with them.

  41. anghus is SPOT ON about the Oscar predictor sites. They ruin film going and worse, ruin the awards show they’re supposed to be getting behind.
    anghus didn’t say this so it’s my take but by only offering these little top 5 predictions on who will win, these sites in effect choose who will be nominated. “Gran Torino” is a fine, silly little film that has absolutely no business being touted for a statue. Mendelson made the same point in that if the film had come out in spring or summer, it would not be in this conversation.
    But like sharks smelling blood in the water, all these sites are falling all over one another to throw Eastwood in there for basically doing a satire of his older films. These sites gotta be FIRST (!) for some non-existent score keeper somewhere in bloggy-bloggy land. It’s ridiculous.
    And on the “Inglorious Bastards” misspelling tip, does anyone else think like Roger Avary pointed out that QT and Co. spelled it wrong to avoid paying royalties to the original? Is that a tangible argument from a legal standpoint?

  42. T. Holly says:

    Don, they ruin the awards show? Are you kidding me? From now on, whatever pops in your head, think the oposite.

  43. Cadavra says:

    Hey, the original INGLORIOUS was just a knock-off of THE DIRTY DOZEN, so all QT’s doing is ripping off the rip-off, not unlike the U.S. remake of THE EYE, which kncoked off Apted’s BLINK. And lawsuits are based on content, not title.

  44. jeffmcm says:

    I’m also assuming (maybe wrongly) that when the movie comes out, ‘Basterds’ will be spelled correctly and that this is just a screenplay affectation.

  45. christian says:

    No seriously, the Wells hat thing just gets better.

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    Christian: At your suggestion, I went over to HE and… Jeez, you’re right, strange stuff. It’s been a while since I visited the site. Is this typical of what’s going on there these days? Have I missed earlier stages of the meltdown? Or did the trap door just suddenly spring open? I’m sorry, but I can’t shake the mental image of a frightened Aunt Bee loading a shotgun for protection because Otis the Drunk suddenly went berserk.

  47. David Poland says:

    It is all too much.
    We try not to spoil without big warnings around here and my reviewing style has been greatly informed by the idea that most of the experience of movies should not be prechewed by putting graphs of story in reviews. This has lead to some feeling that I not a critic… but not really anyone I respect. I write about ideas and skills and intentions fulfilled or missed… isn’t that the gig, whatever you feel about my opinions?
    All the Oscar writing is too much… and little read. Of course, I am accused of being anti-competitive because I am already established and don’t think piling on is good. But really, if you add something of value, welcome aboard. Not many – big outlets or small – do.
    But I have no problem with the noise becuase it can be turned off… or not clicked on. It is, indeed, the mainstreaming of the hyperactivity that is scary. We NEED the NYT on that wall… as I have shouted for years.

  48. christian says:

    After I actually once had The Jeff Wells Experience, his hat post makes perfect non-sense.

  49. leahnz says:

    i’ve never looked at ‘hollywood elsewhere’ until now – not sure why, perhaps out of some weird sense of loyalty to david poland, who would appear to be wells’ arch nemesis if the world was indeed a comic book – but that hat brouhaha defies belief. (does jeff wells know he’s the spitting image of a young robert goulet in that little pic on his site? maybe it’s just me)

  50. yancyskancy says:

    If you’ve ever seen an original copy of any of QT’s earlier scripts, you know that the man simply can’t spell. I guess after the success of Reservoir Dogs, he could get away with that. The rest of us have to fret over every comma, because few script readers have patience with the poor spelling and grammar in an unknown’s script, no matter how great the story and dialogue.

  51. LexG says:

    Jeff Wells is the spitting image of John Black from Days of Our Lives.

  52. christian says:

    INGLORIOUS BASTERDS are GO!

The Hot Blog

movieman on: BYOBlog

Stella's Boy on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

Hcat on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

leahnz on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

movieman on: BYOBlog

leahnz on: BYOBlog

Stella's Boy on: BYOB - RIP The Goldfinch

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima