Everyone on TV reads the same newspaper

Discuss

84 Responses to “Everyone on TV reads the same newspaper”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wonder who the woman is in the image on the newspaper. She can claim being in a crapload of TV shows.

  2. jfrancis says:

    SO where can I get a copy?

    • microcars says:

      where can you get a copy?
      probably Earl Hayes Press!
      http://www.theearlhayspress.com/id6.html

      that *particular* issue might not be available any longer, but ask them.

      great fun to go through their website, see if you can spot any familiar items!

      • Andrea James says:

        Per fishbear, this is generally covered under the Lanham Act, the US statute regarding trademark infringement. Movie money is currently covered under the Counterfeit Detection Act.

        The woman shown on the newspaper is either a prop house employee or someone else who signed away their rights to that likeness “for valuable consideration.” We used to use our own names on props because it was easier legally, but we couldn’t use our own likeness due to agency conflict of interest rules about appearing in something you wrote.

        Per microcars, a great example of Earl Hays is the scene in the Harold and Kumar sequel where the racist investigator pours a can of Grape Pop out in front of a black witness (starts at 2:30)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwQkT_3ZSjQ

        The Grape Pop is customized Hays MB-44:

        http://www.theearlhayspress.com/id3.html

        No way any real soda company like Welch’s or Fanta would ever in a million years let you use their product that way.

        • Jack says:

          The woman shown on the newspaper is either a prop house employee or someone else who signed away their rights to that likeness “for valuable consideration.”

          That’s a quite generic answer. I would still like to know who it actually is.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think this is my sister, she has lived in Australia all her life, and it looks like a mid ’80s shot of her. Very strange to see her here! If anyone knows how I can get a copy of the prop, do please let me know.

        • Anonymous says:

          Just to clarify: movie money is covered by the Counterfeit Detection Act, which allows the use of real money. http://www.secretservice.gov/money_illustrations.shtml

          In particular, “Motion picture films, microfilms, videotapes, and slides of paper currency, securities, and other obligations may be made in color or black and white for projection or telecasting. No prints may be made from these unless they conform to the size and color restrictions.”

          “Photographs, printed illustrations, motion picture film or slides of United States and foreign coins may be used for any purpose.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    The discussion seems to have turned to ‘why’, but the question in my mind is ‘how’! As in HOW could they be using the same or similar paper for a production in 1991 and 2009? Are those all coming from the same studio, with a prop dept with a box full of those papers that everyone pulls from?

  4. Andrea James says:

    I used to do a lot of beer and fast food ads, and there was always drama about recognizable products. Sports teams and equipment were the worst, followed by aforementioned cars, clothes, phones, furniture, appliances, computers, and artwork. With these deep-pocket companies, people would go after them for things you couldn’t possibly anticipate, so the goal was to anticipate every possible problem. It really gets in your head. Once I was watching an indie film at a festival, where someone was wielding a baseball bat, and all I could think was, wow, I hope they cleared that bat.

  5. Jack says:

    So all this bluster aside, does anyone know or have any clue who the dark haired woman is in all of those headshots?

  6. IronEdithKidd says:

    Related, but not – last night while watching Kill Bill vol. 2, noticed the bread Bill used to make sandwiches is called “Bimbo”.

  7. TheEvilJeremy says:

    I’ve worked as a prop master on music videos, commercials, television shows, and films, and the policy across the board is to never show a logo unless it has been specifically cleared. The last thing my crew does before cameras start rolling on a scene is to make sure that any recognizable logos or trademarked items have been turned away from camera, obscured, removed, or covered by tape. In fact, I generally carry about 15 to 20 rolls of tape of varying colors and materials in my toolkit, and have spent countless hours of my life tracking down shopping bags, shoeboxes, paper cups, pizza boxes, etc. that don’t have troublesome logos on them.

  8. ndollak says:

    I’ve noticed that, whenever a nudie magazine is called for (and the show is set any time after the mid-1970s), the cover is usually the March 1974 issue of “Playboy,” regardless of who appears in the centerfold when the interior of the magazine is shown. (An easy-to-find example would be the “Amazing Stories” episode with the guy who invents a chemical that brings pictures to life.)

  9. jonathan levy says:

    -Mi ujsag?
    -Semmi.

  10. pushmonk says:

    I agree with you theory, but I also would like to think that it’s also become the practical props people’s “Whilhelm Scream”.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There is a sound track for hospital intercoms that I first (personally) heard on the Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime CD. I then heard it again, and again over the years on hospital sitcoms and soap-operas.

    “Dr. Davis telephone, please, Dr. Davis. Dr. Hamilton, Dr. Jay Hamilton….”

    I wonder when that sample was first recorded?

  12. ackpht says:

    Same here but my amateur filmmaking group only has black or blue tape on set- hence objects in our films will sometimes sport inexplicable black or blue rectangles where the logos would normally be.

  13. Jeremy says:

    http://www.theearlhayspress.com/ http://www.icommnetwork.net/

    2 companies we use in the film industry for this type of stuff.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Paper Cups! Every TV show has the same paper cup. There’s even a Facebook page about the ‘Famous Paper Cup’!
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/The-Famous-Paper-Cup/120819951302170?ref=ts

  15. jfrancis says:

    I would like to think it has something to do with time travel.

  16. Andrea James says:

    There are a bunch of reasons you don’t see real newspapers unless they are product placements, and it’s not really copyright as much as other legal/financial considerations. Some of the main ones are:

    1. Dates: If the goal is syndication/re-runs, scripted entertainment often tries to avoid anything topical. It reduces the shelf life of the product.

    2. Newspaper name: You are expected to get permission before using a company’s product, like the show Early Edition got permission from the Sun-Times.

    3. Ads: Let’s say a character is holding today’s New York Times with a big headline about the BP oil spill. Now let’s say USA Today and BP are possible show sponsors. Advertisers never want to see competitors or negative mentions of their products. The latter can rise to the level of corporate defamation and product/commercial disparagement. Oprah can tell you about that nightmare.

    Greeking out logos and using prop newspapers, etc. are definitely ounces of prevention. You learn very quickly in production that people will sue you for anything and everything. Better to be safe than sorry, and it beats blurring stuff out or cutting lines in post, which is a last resort usually done at the insistence of standards and practices or some other entity.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      “You are expected to get permission before using a company’s product, like the show Early Edition got permission from the Sun-Times.”

      And which statute, exactly, establishes this expectation?

      • Anonymous says:

        As I understand it it’s because it’s far simpler and cheaper to use a fake product than it is to fight every company upset by either a)the way they were portrayed in your show or b)not getting paid for appearing in your show.

      • microcars says:

        The same statute that obligates you to use fake money instead of real money on a film shoot. It is the statute that exists in the minds of the Legal and Accounting Departments.

        I used to work on spots for the LOTTERY and sometimes this involved lots and lots of MONEY flying around or something. I always ended up buying more money from Earl Hayes Press in CA and the Producers would always complain that it was “too expensive”. Whenever I suggested getting REAL money to use, they nixed it saying it was “illegal to take a picture of money”.

        Over the years I built up quite a collection of excellent quality fake money for use on set and rented it. When they did not want to buy it. Made a lot of money on fake money.

        The fake paper props are also easier to keep multiple copies of for use over time for continuity. Faded? Replace it. Spill a drink on it? Replace it. Director says “Get him something to read!” Here ya go.

        If -as a Prop Department Head- you use real product you run the risk of slowing down production when someone from Accounting or Legal needs to justify their existence and says “Hey wait a minute, we can’t use that in the shoot!”
        You can’t sit there and argue with them about it, well you CAN, but it will probably be the last job you do in that town.
        Easier to just go with the flow and greek out everything and make everything generic UNLESS a specific brand is asked for or approved.

    • alisong76 says:

      The not wanting to tie the show down to a specific date or timeframe is definitely the first thing I thought of – blindingly bloody obvious, really.

  17. Stooge says:

    At a guess, Cory’s toolbox only has hammers in it.

    • Jack says:

      You know, I work in the world of publishing and have been a tad critical of Cory in the past. But I’ve grown, and the industry has changed (and is still changing) and I must say, I understand his POV in this perfectly.

      It makes 100% no sense why props in a film need to be vetted to this degree. And I know there are legal reasons behind this all, but let’s be real: This is “ambulance chasing” at it’s finest.

      Nobody’s brand is damaged by placement. And if you pay for placement fine. But if you—let’s say—have some NYC romatic comedy who exactly is being hurt or what profits are being damaged by having someone read a real newspaper and drink a real beverage on screen.

      100% no-one.

      This kind of reminds me of Disney lawyers suing nursery schools for painting Disney characters on walls. Who actually cares?

      The U.S. is truly one of the most litigious countries in the world. And the logic behind film and TV rights clearances is a great example.

      • heypal says:

        Okay, but if Debbie pours Coca Cola from a can over her rear end to use as anal lube so she can do Dallas, Coke won’t exactly be excited…

        • Jack says:

          And as a result Coke sales will plummet, and they will go into Chapter 11 and thus, their company is destroyed.

          And more to the point, a lot of these lawsuits are hinged on companies claiming it damages their brand. And I actually used to respect that thought. But if you look back at the history of companies, branding and controversy, practically all cases of companies truly being damaged have been caused by the companies themselves.

          Coke did far more damage to their brand with “New Coke” than anyone else has ever done. Exxon did wonders to their rep with the Exxon Valdez. Philip Morris changed their name to Altria as a direct result of the “big tobacco” lawsuits. And guess what? BP ain’t going to be known as BP for long. Wait for the cleanup of this mess, add 1-2 years and BINGO! New brand.

          • neward says:

            Beyond Petroleum is renaming again? I like the sound of Anglo-Persian Oil Company, they should go back to using that.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I think the funniest screenshot was the one from Desperate Housewifes, where someone is holding the paper up against a window and you clearly can see that the same story is printed on the front and the back…

  19. olegonzo says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of newspaper copyright — that would fall under fair use.

    However, inadvertently showing a picture of a person that is published in the newspaper might not be covered. A closeup shot of a newspaper in a movie, for example, where somebody’s mug is clearly identifiable could lead to legal exposure.

    While a newspaper can publish an image of an adult (and a minor with the guardian’s consent) on the basis of press freedom, a second-party use of the image of a private citizen in a commercial venture (a movie or television production) could led to actionable invasion of privacy under the Supreme Court’s past decisions on using people’s images in commercial ventures without their consent.

  20. Ugly Canuck says:

    Hey! What a co-incidence!
    I read the same newspapers every day, too.
    Have done so for decades.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Next you’re going to tell us that everyone on TV smokes Morleys.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think the real reason boils down to the fact that “Nobody will EVER know they’re using the same prop over and over again”

    If it were not for the “fix it in post” attitude, well, I wouldn’t have nearly as much work as I do.

  23. Anonymous says:

    All of Andrea’s points, plus:

    Creating a newspaper is time consuming for a props department. Using a template gives you more time to find the fun background dressing and whatnot.

    The same thing with money. You’re not supposed to film real money, so props shops have mock money that looks just close enough to the real thing without being so.

  24. MarkD60 says:

    I always noticed that everyone has the same apple laptop too!

    PS: I copied this post on my blog,

    • Rick. says:

      I heard that Apple doesn’t require permission for use of their products in film or tv (not entirely sure). Sometimes you’ll see a pc but it’s usually either a plot point or whoever made the computer is a direct sponsor (Dell, etc.). And the iPhone seems to be the de facto phone used in tv and film now since the nice, big screen makes who’s calling unmistakable.

    • SB-129 says:

      take a look at iCarly – they have PearPads and PearPods! with little pear logos on them :)

      As for the newspaper – this really made me smile – i’ll be keeping an eye out in the future!

  25. Anonymous says:

    It’s just practical. You go into the set storage area, you grab the table, you grab the coffee mug, you grab the paper. Work even in community theater and there is tons of old books, etc reused for everything. That’s just theater life. it’s funny that it shows up time and again on TV. But guess what? TV is just a theater stage… is that so shocking?

  26. microcars says:

    That’s a quite generic answer. I would still like to know who it actually is.

    Her name is Jill McDonough.
    that is her maiden name though, she is married now.

  27. Anonymous says:

    why didn’t you guys use the ed o’neill screenshots for the post? thirteen years later and he’s still reading the same paper!

  28. freshacconci says:

    I’d think it was some sort of industry in-joke. I’ve seen specific newspapers mentioned if it was part of the plot in some manner (The Boston Globe was mentioned on M*A*S*H as Charles’ paper).

  29. Anonymous says:

    I wonder when people start reading news on their iPad in TV shows if it will display the same news template each time!

  30. Anonymous says:

    What’s a newspaper?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Good lord, does this mean we’ve just expanded the Tommy Westphall Universe yet again?!!

  32. Anonymous says:

    This is another example of how stifling copyright law has become. “Fair use” has become a joke since the threat of being sued is so common that no one dare claim “fair use” anymore. The content companies have used internet downloading as an excuse to get Congress to give them anything they want. Who really successfully uses “fair use” anymore without getting sued? I wish Mr. Doctorow would address that. I bet he’d throw out that same old stand by that the Authors Guild spokesman gave when he was asked why copyright should be extended to 70 YEARS AFTER THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR : “I think authors should get paid for the their work.”

  33. Anonymous says:

    for the REAL reason, dial KL-555-1234567

  34. Fett101 says:

    “UN Debates Mideast Crisis; Hopes for Early Solution Dim”

    Well at least they’re guaranteed to always have a up to date headline.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The Lorem Ipsum of onscreen newspapers!

    (okay, maybe the analogy isn’t that exact)

  36. Anonymous says:

    I’m watching “No Country for Old Men” and there’s Tommy Lee Jones reading the same newspaper.

  37. Mr. Protocol says:

    Anyone curious about this should Google the Earl Hays Press, which I drive by frequently. It’s within walking distance of where Jay Leno keeps all those cars.

  38. InsertFingerHere says:

    Guns became radios in E.T. , can’t be that hard to pepper scenes with object that can easily be texture mapped for a sponsor’s use.

    Generic can of cola on the counter, could be any brand you want in syndication. Motion tracking data like what James Cameron did in Avatar will be part of the MPEG stream, and then the cable boxes in homes will add whatever sponsor images as needed.

    I want royalties on that idea, BTW.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand what that fake headline means. Am i reading it wrong or does it say, “She’s 3rd brightest But Hard ‘Got’ to See”?

  40. Targe says:

    Knowing someone who works in clearing details for TV and film, the whole industry approach to item clearance is crazy!

    It seems that pretty much anything linked to a company brand has to be cleared. Alcohol characters drink, books characters read, posters on walls, medications taken, logos on mugs, software or websites, company names, character names – it all has to be cleared. This is true for both items which matter to the storyline and just props in scenes.

    I would have thought that fair use could apply in many of these cases, but there’s very much a zero risk policy. Even made-up company names have to be fact-checked and cleared beforehand to ensure they couldn’t be linked to a real company. Items can’t just be left cover-down or label-turned-away, because the people on set won’t be aware of the issues and will turn one of them around because it looks better. And so forth.

    I’d love to know why the industry is set up like this. I presume historically Bad Thingsâ„¢ have happened requiring all this care?

  41. Anonymous says:

    Best part of the linked page — Ed O’Neil reading the same newspaper on two different shows 13 years apart.

  42. Donald Petersen says:

    Some people’s brands could well be damaged by placement. Depends greatly on the context, which is why the clearance department routinely needs to see script pages to determine said context. Screenwriter might want to tell a story wherein a character has a sexual fetish for, say, Dora the Explorer. Would Viacom ever conceivably grant clearance for any production to use any depiction of this property in such a film? I find it hard to imagine. Similarly, if you’re trying to license footage for playback on a TV within a scene, you sometimes run into trouble. Some sports franchises won’t let you use playback footage if the scene is set inside a bar, for example. Or if there’s a lot of violence.

    You run into this kind of issue all the time, with trademarks, copyrighted art, music, hell, even some buildings need to be cleared. I seem to remember having to avoid stock shots that featured Madison Square Garden too prominently, if a deal with the Garden wasn’t in place.

    But now that TiVos and other DVRs have made commercial-skipping the norm, there’s more product placement than ever before. Because of this, TV shows in particular really try to control which brands appear on their shows. If there’s a “sponsored in part by” deal in place with, say, Apple, then you’ll see Apple computers on the show with the logo prominently displayed, Apple pays the production company (and possibly the network, but I don’t know) a small bucket of money for the privilege, and the production is required by the FCC to disclose this transaction within the credits; it’s called an FCC 317 credit. From the FCC’s website: “Section 317 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 317, requires broadcasters to disclose to their listeners or viewers if matter has been aired in exchange for money, services or other valuable consideration. The announcement must be aired when the subject matter is broadcast.”

    If no deal is in place, then the Apple logo will probably be greeked or otherwise covered/obscured. No sense in giving Apple free screen time if they ain’t payin’ for it… especially if one has a deal with, say, Microsoft.

  43. stephen@sv2studios.com says:

    There are a number of issues here. First, standard props like this are often made in very large quantities – it might be the exact same paper in these shots but more likely one of many that look like it. For issues of continuity (same prop in same scene), props that break, tear, stain easily come in large batches.

    Second, standard props are made to be fair use/clearance pure – totally generic, needing no attention at all, even in closeup for time and budget reasons. This because:

    Third, Fair Use, produce placement and clearing items are time and money intensive. Fair use is a 100% gray area. It can even depend what Federal Circuit your case ends up how Fair Use in interpreted. Almost every film, tv, video etc. distribution outlet requires the show have an “Errors and Omission” insurance policy (E&O).

    Films, shows, videos intended for broad distribution are generally “vetted” by people skilled in these issues to insure that they have no red flag issues that would prevent getting E&O or any issues that would raise the rates higher than the budget.

    So even if something is covered by Fair Use – many producers will remove it for E&O costs (or potential costs of even baseless suits). This is why Happy Birthday is so rarely uses in films and TV – the copyright owners have a rep for suing everyone, justified or not.

    Four – the type of work has huge factor on Fair Use. True parody works may make liberal or even total use of copyrighted material (though this does not prevent baseless lawsuits that can ruin you even if you win – as Gone with the Wind parody found out some years back). Works with significant educational, scientific, journalistic value enjoy broad protections under fair use. Pure commercial entertainment that generates millions has the least protection for fair use – thus big budget Hollywood films look to product placement vs. Fair Use for onscreen props.

  44. Anonymous says:

    it seems to me that people are quite confused by the differences between copyright and trademark. they are substantial, though in this case, both might apply to a newspaper or magazine being used on screen.

    either way, in both cases the fundamental problem is there is not a concrete legal definition of what constitutes fair use. given that uncertainty, lawyers will always seek to avoid the potential for litigation. hence the use of mock newspapers.

    and remember, commercial works do not necessarily get to wrap themselves in the same fair use blanket that educational works do. which is which? the law leaves that vague too.

    check out these two links, which might help illuminate the issue:

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
    http://www.publaw.com/fairusetrade.html

  45. wangarific says:

    I also think it’s funny that everyone drinks the same Jekyll Island brand beer.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Newpaper says: I am an actor, actually.

  47. NomadEngineer says:

    What I find interesting is that this was noticed because of the woman’s face. Human thought being what it is, this probably would have gone unnoticed without that.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I just used a prop paper for a series – it was not this one, there are several.

    We actually had to add a story on the front page. It was pretty cool – the prop house has a big blank area for your story to add, you submit the document, and it’s put on the front page – I kept the prop.

    And re: clearance – I’m a producer who works on shows that require clip/prop/image licensing. And it all depends on the network’s polices.

    Many studios have prop houses in place that they use because they like their licensing deals, some do not. Also, some networks will engage in riskier clearance issues based on viewership – a high profile show like American Idol is by the book whereas a basic cable reality show might not worry so much about clearing everything.

    Most producers in the field on shows are all well versed in clearance – I won’t shoot pretty much anything unless I know I’ve got signed permission – getting a claim against your show can be a real pain in the ass. Hence why using prop paper is MUCH easier then trying to clear a real one – and in many cases cheaper.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I worked for a Graphic Props company in LA for 3 years making this stuff for the film and television industry.

    It was common for prop masters to order an item (i.e. fake police car magnet stickers, fake tv dinner boxes, fake soda cans, fake magazines) for one shoot and then keep it in storage. It would then be re-used for later projects as needed.

    Fake newspapers were the most common order actually. My decade old TV dinner boxes just recently showed up again in random porn flick.

  50. lefthandrighthand says:

    and how about that it’s a whole lot easier to just have a box full of this ready made paper over in props rather than having to go out and buy a dang paper every time you need one for a scene? and this one is guaranteed to be in ample supply so continuity wont be an issue. one less thing to worry about.

    one thing i dont recommend (do it!) is looking at the sets of sit-coms and noticing how the same ones are used over and over.

  51. Anonymous says:

    I think it says something that headlines from 1983 appear to be relevant and current over a quarter century later.

  52. heypal says:

    There are a few things avoided when using props (not set dressing, FYI) that are pre-cleared. The biggest one is right there in the middle of the page: the photos. If the subject of the photos does not approve of the show, it’s content, or just feels like they’re owed something for having their mug appear on television they will sue. That adds dollars to the budget, which is already spread thin. It’s much easier to license a photo and manufacture a “newspaper” than it is to clear all the photos in one so you can use it on set without worrying about what’s showing up on camera.

    The other big one is logos and artwork. It is fair use for them to appear on camera, *until* (and this is a big one) you use those images to promote your show or movie. At that point, if you haven’t cleared that use with the owner of the logo/artwork you are opening yourself up to risk. The assumption is that you are using their brand (via their logo or artwork) to promote sales of your own brand. There are precedents to this and it actually makes almost as much sense as David Byrne suing to stop a politician from using his music to promote themselves.

    So while you could fall under fair use for actual broadcast, you would be limiting yourself for promotion.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Heypal reminded me of another one: one time we had to make a short “Hollywood montage” when we had an episode set in Hollywood. Got a few generic Hollywood Boulevard and palm tree shots, but we had to nix one shot because it featured a wall covered in graffiti, and there was a chance (however slim) that some of that graffiti might be copyrighted artwork.

      Also we had to make sure that any shot that showed the Hollywood sign kept the sign deep in the background. If the sign is featured prominently enough, one has to pay off the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Besides, studio lawyers want to keep being able to charge $10,000 for three seconds of the Simpsons that shows up incidentally in the background of a documentary.

  54. Anonymous says:

    It could have to do with legal nonsense, but more likely it has to do with verisimilitude. Since your show is being shot in L.A. but might take place in Chicago, a copy of the L.A. times would detract from the overall chicagoy impression you are trying to convey. Also, if the show is set anytime other than last week, the headlines will be wrong. The prop paper is mostly text, with a couple of headlines and one picture. It does not draw the eye and the audience will not be interested in what the paper actually says. The prop newspaper lends itself to composition well. It says newspaper and nothing else. Imagine our hero has just boarded the train and taken his seat; across the way a man is seated, his face obscured by a newspaper. Could this be the assassin from Düsseldorf? You want the audience to be thinking “who is that guy behind the newspaper?” not “Hey they are having a sale at bobs mattress-o-rama”.

  55. donniebnyc says:

    I’m sure I remember seeing the NY Post used in All in The Family. Easily recognized sports pages and even some covers.

    • J says:

      Actually, it was usually the Daily News that Archie was seen reading, usually with a sports page visible. (You would think he’d be a Post reader, but this was probably before Murdoch got a hold of it :)

  56. fishbear says:

    IANAL(yet) and I don’t know offhand what the U.S.C. cite it is, but I imagine it has to do with the Lanham Act, concerning trademark (where a newspaper name/logo is a trademark). Of course, it seems that were such a case to show up in court, a court would be unlikely to find that the use of a real L.A. Times newspaper in a TV show actually constitutes trademark infringement. Note that trademark infringement is different from copyright infringement; fair use in trademark infringement is a different legal doctrine based on different elements.

    But more importantly, there’s no reason to demonize “paranoid lawyers.” The reason lawyers are paranoid is because of overzealous trademark-holders, i.e. the newspapers, who want to use the law to bully “secondary” creators. The lawyers would not be serving their clients (the studios) well if they just let them be vulnerable to that threat.

  57. Donald Petersen says:

    These clearance issues also vary widely from network to network. I work in TV Post, and I know from painful experience how one network in particular wouldn’t allow car logos on screen, apparently for fear there might be some automaker with potential interest in spending advertising dollars on one particular series, that might take offense at all those competing logos driving around in the exterior urban action scenes.

    The result of this fairly silly policy turned expensive fast. The show I worked on, while shot in Vancouver, was set in New York City, and lots of scenes of people running around traffic-clogged streets, avoiding cops, etc. Since nobody bothered to tell the set dressers or transportation department to take a quick screwdriver to all the logos on all the cars that appeared in each shot, instead we spent tens of thousands of dollars per episode on unnecessary visual effects, digitally erasing each Mercedes logo, Jaguar leaper, Ford oval, Chevy bowtie, Honda H, and Toyota T (or Taurus Bull-head, or upside-down rocketship, or whatever the hell their logo is supposed to represent) of every single car.

    More recently, on a more reasonable network, we were asked to re-cut a scene that featured a too-egregious beauty shot of a Mercedes McLaren whose hood ornament drove right up into camera as a result of an enthusiastic director whose shot design was perfectly appropriate to get across the hi-end automotive coolness that was important to the dramatic dynamics of the scene, but the BS&P folks thought would have been more appropriate for Top Gear, or a Mercedes commercial. No remunerative deal being in place with Mercedes, BS&P politely asked for the shot to be trimmed in order to minimize the logo being shoved down the camera’s throat. After the prior experience I’d had with the other network, I thought they were being surprisingly reasonable. We trimmed what we were comfortable trimming, and BS&P was happy.

    A few years back I was working on a show wherein we used a stock shot of a particular (non-chain) restaurant in New York City. As it turned out, the guy from whom we procured the shot hadn’t gotten a property clearance. He wasn’t trespassing or anything; the joint was shot from across the street. But the owner saw the episode and was pissed. Since we’d built an interior set and had a couple of scenes take place within, and this stock shot essentially established these scenes as taking place within his restaurant without his permission, he felt we were misrepresenting his place (though the scene content was completely innocuous), so he sued. The production company paid up, and we replaced that stock shot for future airings with a property-cleared one.

    I don’t know under what ordinance this stuff happens, but it certainly keeps BS&P folks awake nights.

  58. microcars says:

    so Cory, do you understand the issues at play here now?
    things are not so clearly Fair Use as they would appear.

    nice discussion thread. I look forward to more behind the scenes stories of what actually goes on.

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