I had an idea once, but only once. It was simply a name that I decided to put on a website, a name that would become rather well-known. And then a decade later, someone else claimed they came up with the name out of the blue as well, and thought it would be a good name for a network. It wasn't until afterward they realized I had already created the name, even though they had worked directly with my site and that name for years.
Yeah, it seems rather unlikely, almost laughable. But according to Syfy, that's the genesis of the name.
So when former "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" recurring actors Amber Benson and Adam Busch claimed Big Hollywood swooped in and lifted an idea they had produced into an independent film called "Drones," Airlock Alpha was all over it.
But a few days later, after successfully seeking out the other side of the story, I'm not so sure anymore. I thought maybe Benson didn't fully think all this through, and missed some key facts. But now it's starting to smell more and more like a publicity stunt.
Hey, don't get me wrong. I'm all for publicity stunts. Hell, Syfy did me a favor with that whole naming thing, because before that we had an uphill battle introducing the Airlock Alpha name to the world, and then -- with it attached to every news report about the new SciFi Channel name -- we didn't have to lift a finger. But then again, our unintentional publicity stunt didn't hurt anybody. Benson's claims that Scott Prendergast lifted her ideas could hurt a show on the Syfy development slate -- and all of it is unnecessary.
I was avoiding sharing my opinions about all this here. I felt having both Benson's original story and Prendergast's response would be enough. That both sides would see what the other side felt, meet in the middle, and give each other big hugs over what seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding (and some creative claims as well).
That didn't happen. We reached out to Amber Benson, gave her an opportunity to respond. She even started following Airlock Alpha on our Twitter feed for at least a short time after the Prendergast story ran. Yet, instead of publicly coming out and at least responding to Prendergast's rebuttal, she's out peddling the same story in different places.
In fact, she had a new blog post published Tuesday night where both she and Busch tried to tug at our heart strings a bit.
"Everyone knows this sort of thing happens all the time and will continue to happen in the future," she wrote in her blog. "There is very little that can be done to stop it when you are not a major Hollywood player, but we felt we could not remain silent as we see it happen around us.â€¨â€¨"
That's actually an important point, and one that I wish wasn't relegated to her minor Hollywood player blog ... oh wait, hold on. I just clicked that link above, and that's not Amber Benson's regular blog. That's posted at a place called "The Wrap," a major online publication for the entertainment industry that anyone who is anyone in Hollywood (and its foreign counterparts) reads and wants to be in.
So let me get this straight. Benson is not a major Hollywood player, yet the trailer for her film -- which at the time didn't even have a distributor -- gets "exclusive" coverage on Syfy.com. Her Twitter account has some 38,000 followers. And she can publish blogs, complete with her picture in the banner, on places like The Wrap.
Sure, that doesn't make Benson a Steven Spielberg, but it certainly doesn't suggest you're small fish in the pond.
I really like Amber Benson, I really do. And seeing the trailer for "Drones," I'd love to see the movie, and can't wait until it's available on DVD so I can see it.
I also think it's great that "Drones" is getting some publicity that it might not have received otherwise. However, what I don't like is that this move is coming at the cost of another creative mind's reputation. Before "Human Relations" (which is not even a definite part of Syfy's future, by the way), Prendergast himself was (and still is) an indie filmmaker, who had to fight to find budgeting, to get noticed, and to not be trampled on by Big Hollywood.
Yet, he seems to have picked up what could be a big break by having a major cable channel interested in an idea he had, and suddenly, he's Big Hollywood. Yet, he didn't get primary placement on The Wrap. Instead, his message had to go through a not-so-big (yet influential) science-fiction news site that is no small potatoes, but is definitely not even a universe near the league of The Wrap.
I don't want to see anyone steal from anyone else. But let's get one thing straight: If I had to choose between Amber Benson and Scott Prendergast as being "Big Hollywood," I certainly wouldn't be picking Scott Prendergast.
There's no evidence that anyone lifted from anyone else. As far as we know, these could be two entirely different stories with some minor similarities (which happens in everything coming out of Hollywood). You got the publicity for "Drones," so let's stop trampling the good name of someone else trying to make his mark on the industry. That is, unless you're willing to finally offer some tangible proof that Big Hollywood is indeed co-opting your independent film idea.
If that evidence does exist, then shame on you, Syfy and Scott Prendergast. If that evidence doesn't exist, then I think Scott Prendergast and Syfy deserve some sort of retraction by Amber Benson ... and maybe even an apology.
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