IJBFC Chat - February 7, 2010

(Name of message originator in [] brackets at the beginning of each line)

[Laura Leff] Hi folks!

[Brad from Georgia] Hi, Laura. We're up agin the Superbowl, ya know.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Superbowl? What's that?

[Brad from Georgia] It's like a regular bowl, but it's, like, super?

[Laura Leff] Hi Paul - I don't recognize your name right off...are you new here?

[ed k] i am playing it online so i'll leave at the 3rd quarter start

[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh...kind of like a special is two half hour shows put together?

[Brad from Georgia] No, a special is when coffee goes down to 84 cents a pound. In fact, these days that's a SPECTACULAR.

[Laura Leff] Especially considering Starbucks' prices.

[Paul_M] I just added you on FB, Laura

[Paul_M] i'm Midwave in the group

[Brad from Georgia] Yeah, at school the guy who always stocked the coffee room retired, so now I'm the coffee guy. Just bought eight pounds at a supermarket that's going out of business.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Ah, very good. Welcome in!

[Paul_M] so far this year, only old eppy's of Jack Benny have made me smile...i've had a rotten start to the new year

[Laura Leff] Sorry we don't have a larger group tonight...

[Laura Leff] Paul - Hopefully the episode for discussion tonight made you smile!

[ed k] to bad about the store i work at a grocery-our store closed in 2001 and i was transferred to another one in the co.

[Brad from Georgia] Sorry about your bad year (so far) Paul. Hope things turn up for you soon.

[ed k] too*

[Laura Leff] Who ever thought of supermarkets going out of business...everyone needs food.

[Brad from Georgia] I have to say Mary did a nice job of reading Phil's lines!

[Paul_M] My house was burglarized while i was at work (1-12) and none of the neighbors saw anything....then the friday after that my neighbors waterline burst a 2nd time this winter taking my water with it (no water in the house for 2 weeks)

[Laura Leff] Well, if this ends up being a short chat, I've got no issue with it...still plenty of stuff I need to do before the weekend is out.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Holy cow!

[Brad from Georgia] Oh, man! Sorry, Paul. Maybe you've used up your bad luck for theyear.

[Paul_M] i still have to go shooping

[Brad from Georgia] Laura, Eddie Anderson really was lost at sea just before this episode, no?

[Laura Leff] Paul - In what region of the country are you located?

[ed k] paul should be no trouble finding a parking spot at the store

[Brad from Georgia] I mean for a short time, of course.

[Paul_M] then as things are getting straightened out at home, we get hit with 16 inches of snow

[Paul_M] Ohio

[Laura Leff] Brad - sure was. That's why they wrote it in.

[Brad from Georgia] We escaped the snow in GA but had 3 inches of rain in 24 hours.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Yow. Both my parents are from Dayton and I'm from Michigan, so I have a firsthand appreciation for the weather challenges!

[Paul_M] i love rain

[Paul_M] i'm in the Youngstown area

[Brad from Georgia] It washes memories off the sidewalks of life.

[Laura Leff] And chalk

[ed k] and snow

[Brad from Georgia] (that's a line from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam)

[Laura Leff] I'm awfully glad we didn't have the 39 Man March in Washington around this time.  

[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh I know.  

[Paul_M] oh..and one thing that was damaged was the case from my 4-disc set of Jack Benny (Mill Creek Entertainment)

[Laura Leff] Paul - As long as it's just the case and not the discs in it.

[ed k] OUCH!!!

[Brad from Georgia] Paul--My wife found a "Johnny Carson and Friends" Mill CreekDVD in the bargain bin at Borders' and bought it for me. It has about six Jack Benny appearances in it.

[Laura Leff] Yes, Mary sounds like she's actually having a good time on the show for tonight.

[Brad from Georgia] Some on the Carson show, some on "Shower of Stars."

[Laura Leff] Brad - Cool...anything we don't already have in the library?

[Paul_M] discs look fine....case will be impossible to find a replacement...2 discs sit inside, while the other two swing on a insert that locks into a center lock in the middle

[Paul_M] wow

[Brad from Georgia] Haven't really checked yet. There's a pretty bad special celebrating the opening of Television City.

[Paul_M] i'll have to look for that Brad

[Laura Leff] What other thoughts on tonight's show?

[Paul_M] Laura....i read all the details about he Jack Benny recordings that CBS won't release....when MCA made the VHS Collection in the late 1990s, were those masters from CBS, or did they do their own restoration?

[Laura Leff] Talking of older shows, the crazy start of this show sounds more to me like late 30s than other shows of this time.

[Brad from Georgia] Am I wrong or were the Symmmmmmmpathy singers the show's writers? Tackaberry, Josefsberg, Balzer?

[Laura Leff] Paul - I think they released only shows they owned, and those copies were probably owned by MCA.

[Laura Leff] Brad - That's right.

[Brad from Georgia] I thought I remembered that. Was too lazy to go upstairs for 39 Forever to check.

[Paul_M] would be nice if MCA, if they are still around as a legal company, would release those VHS items onto DVD

[Laura Leff] Brad - That's OK. My working copy is only across the room, but I pulled up my electronic file instead.

[Brad from Georgia] I thought this was a bright little show. Phil's switch on the joke was classic Benny writing.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Well, funny you mention that. I had a call with NBC about that within the last couple of weeks.

[Paul_M] what did they say?

[Laura Leff] (Quick aside from tonight's show)

[Paul_M] '

[Brad from Georgia] Who was the phone operator? Her voice sounded very familiar.

[Laura Leff] So here's the gist...Universal Home Entertainment made a conscious decision to not pursue releasing the Benny shows. Their rationale is that they want to focus on top current shows/movies.

[ed k] bea benaderet?

[Laura Leff] Brad - Jane Tucker...Jeanette Eyeman's predecessor.

[ed k] oh

[Brad from Georgia] So we get classic modern crap instead of classic classic comedy. Oy!

[Laura Leff] So I asked about NBC Universal being open to sublicensing the shows, and they absolutely are.

[Laura Leff] But...

[Laura Leff] They've talked to various companies (like Guthy Renker, who did the Dean Martin roasts)

[Laura Leff] And no one has been able to give them a bid to make it worthwhile to move it forward.

[Laura Leff] I threw out the names of a couple companies I knew who had been interested in Benny properties, and they had also turned them down.

[Laura Leff] So there are a couple more companies I've talked with who are still actively interested.

[Laura Leff] I'm trying to just get someone interested enough to start working the deal...I don't get any money out of it, just want to get someone working on releasing the shows.

[Laura Leff] So that's where it stands now.

[Brad from Georgia] Would letters of support from the fans help the cause?

[ed k] i write them

[Brad from Georgia] I would, too.

[ed k] give us some e-mails LL

[Laura Leff] Brad - It's hard to say. It's more motivation to the distribution companies to get them to find the money to do it.

[Paul_M] Have you talked to the families of Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Harold Lloyd and sought those companies they dealt with?

[Brad from Georgia] And Laurel and Hardy's families, too.

[Laura Leff] Paul - I know the companies that did the Red Skelton material, and they've turned this material down.

[Laura Leff] I used to know Lou Costello's daughter years ago, and hadn't thought about going that way. They did save Universal once...

[Brad from Georgia] Bad economy right now for launching a new DVD set, unfortunately.

[Laura Leff] It's a good thought. I'll check into it.

[Paul_M] alot of these cheap companies are getting into remastering now

[Laura Leff] Brad - And that's part of what my NBC contact said. That no one can sell enough volume to make money on the deal.

[Paul_M] the A&B sets were done on a low budge

[Paul_M] t

[Brad from Georgia] BTW, Laura, did Jack and Mary own a house in Palm Springs? If so, is it still standing?

[Paul_M] have you attempted to contact the guy over at TVonDVD.com?

[Laura Leff] So even if we got 1K people to send letters, selling that many sets wouldn't really do much.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Yes, and not sure. I've got a postcard with a picture of it.

[Laura Leff] Paul - I don't know him...do you? Could you arrange an introduction? Maybe I know him...what's the name?

[Brad from Georgia] Somewhere on line I found a spectacular aerial view of the Roxbury Drive home.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Maybe Zillow.com?

[Paul_M] http://www.tvshowsondvd.com

[Laura Leff] Or could be a Yahoo maps or other satellite view...

[Laura Leff] BRB...let me make a quick check of that site.

[Paul_M] with our pushing, we nudged CBS to put full seasons of The Lucy SHow on DVD...took several years of nagging

[Brad from Georgia] Might have been. I guess Johnny Cash's dad on "Ring of Fire" was right: "Your house ain't as big as Jack Benny's."

[Brad from Georgia] Good for you, Paul!

[Paul_M] they even give you the choice of playing it modernized, or classic with the old intertwined commercials and glitchy intros

[Paul_M] Laura...he's also on FB and Twitter....

[Laura Leff] I see...it's about motivating people to release the shows, not actually selling them.

[Brad from Georgia] Nice. The specialon the dedication of Television City was full of line fluffs. Even Gale Gordon screwed up a couple of times.

[Brad from Georgia] There's me missing this tiny space bar again.

[Paul_M] http://www.facebook.com/tvshowsondvd

[Laura Leff] What's funny is that CBS' work on restoring the "I Love Lucy" shows was one of their "proud items" that they were showing off to me when I was there.

[Paul_M] i would LOVE to have a job restoring classic tv series and movies

[Laura Leff] Considering that CBS isn't even entertaining sublicense options for the shows in their "vault", I'm hoping it means they're thinking of releasing them themselves.

[Paul_M] i hope so

[Laura Leff] But we'll see.

[Brad from Georgia] A "Jack Benny Show" set should be economical to manufacture. One DVD could hold the first five seasons....

[Laura Leff] And I've got other stuff in the works even if they don't. (she said mysteriously)

[Laura Leff] Brad - Could it really, though?

[Brad from Georgia] Probably, but on a slow speed.....

[Laura Leff] The first show is 45 minutes, and can't you only get maybe 3 hours on a DVD?

[Laura Leff] We're watching "The Avengers" from 1963 and there are three hour-long episodes on a disc.

[Brad from Georgia] Oh, I can get six hours on a DVD. But I'd have to bootleg it, and the quality would stink.

[Laura Leff] OK. We don't want stinky Benny DVDs.  

[Paul_M] Laura....the recordings you have on DVD...how do those differ from what's in the CBS vault and what MCA used?

[Laura Leff] The recordings I have in the library come from a tremendously wide variety of sources, and I don't even know the pedigree of most of them.

[Laura Leff] But in general...

[Laura Leff] Many of them were recorded off-air. So you're subject to the MCA edits for the syndication set.

[Laura Leff] Some of them are complete with original commercials, and may have come off 16mm prints that someone had somewhere.

[Paul_M] and those hold a different license than what CBS and MCA have?

[Laura Leff] So one could say that the off-air shows come from the MCA copies, but after editing for syndication and rebroadcast, copy to tape, and then transfer to DVD.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Well, I'll try and answer that without going into a lot of detail that would bore everyone.

[Brad from Georgia] Multitasking. My cowriter on the King Kong book, Joe, just called from Pennsylvania. He spent three hours shoveling his drive, and then the snowplow came along and barricaded his car in again.

[Laura Leff] What CBS has is all public domain. None of their shows were ever registered for copyright, so fell into PD eventually.

[Brad from Georgia] It's okay, I have a speakerphone.

[Paul_M] i had this discussion in the past over the Lucy Show PD episodes, some of which are now part of The Lucy Show CBS DVDs

[Laura Leff] Brad - I love living in California.

[Laura Leff] Paul - OK, good...so you're hep to these challenges!

[Laura Leff] What MCA has, by and large and as best we know, are copies of the shows to which they still hold copyright.

[Brad from Georgia] AND I'm watching the Simpsons. Classic exchange at the end with Homer and the Smothers Brothers! Homer: "Tom, I don't know why they think you're the dumb one."

[Laura Leff] They probably have copies of shows that were never registered or expired at some time as well, but the bulk of what they have is probably what they own.

[Laura Leff] But the caveat is that I don't have a list of the exact shows they have in their respective "vault".

[Brad from Georgia] Ok, Joe just said goodbye, so I'll give my full attention to whatever it is that I'm doing now.

[Laura Leff] Paul - I'll take a breather there and see if I already answered your question.

[Paul_M] yea...so MCA owns the only copyright to a few of the JB shows? And CBS is hoarding stuff they don't legally own anymore?

[Laura Leff] (And NBC had a fire at a Universal warehouse about 1.5 years ago, and they're still in the process of figuring out what they lost and replacing it.)

[Paul_M] oooooooh

[Paul_M] here's my big question then....for you Laura....

[Laura Leff] Paul - Well...on the home page (www.jackbenny.org) I posted a listing of the copyright status for each TV show.

[Laura Leff] So click on the Copyright link under Featured Items and you can see how much they own. I haven't counted recently, but I think it's about 130 shows.

[Laura Leff] CBS technically has the "physical rights" to their copies of the shows, but they don't own the copyrights to the shows. Legally, they're entitled to do whatever they want with their physical copies. But yes, you could say they're hoarding them because

[Paul_M] if ALL of what you have in your collection is PD...and i'm sure alot of what you have is not found anywhere else but cheap PD DVDs and the MCA VHS.....Anyway someone would talk to you and Joan Benny about releasing what's not out there already,...

[Laura Leff] they won't permit access to them and don't own the copyrights.

[Paul_M] but in PD...and put out a LOST JACK BENNY DVD COLLECTION?

[Laura Leff] Paul - Not all of what I have is PD.

[Paul_M] ooooooooh ok

[Laura Leff] Paul - Well...like I said, I've got a few things in the works.  

[Paul_M] ok

[Paul_M] cool

[Laura Leff] It's just that things are at a pretty early stage right now,

[Laura Leff] and I've seen a lot of deals like this go into nothingness or run up against something that eventually kills it.

[Paul_M] i would love to see a "Lost Jack Benny Gems" DVD with you and Joan being interviewed

[Brad from Georgia] I'll second that.

[Laura Leff] Joan is definitely very aware and involved in what's going on, so I'd love to see that as well.

[Laura Leff] Also, these projects can take a lot of time to actually come to "public release". So just know that I'll keep pushing. Have been doing so for a few decades now, and am finally starting to see a little movement!


[Brad from Georgia] Like jump-starting a glacier, eh?

[Laura Leff] Brad - Seriously...

[Laura Leff] But one more comment on some of what I have not being PD.

[Paul_M] ok...

[Laura Leff] If your public library had a copy of a movie, let's say "Gone With the Wind", they could lend it out for viewing.

[Laura Leff] It's technically for private use, educational purposes.

[Paul_M] correct

[Laura Leff] So it's the same with the IJBFC. We're a non-profit educational group dedicated to educating people on the life and work of Jack Benny.

[Paul_M] ok

[Brad from Georgia] But if they have a copy of GWTW with Jack Benny as Rhett Butler, they're in some kind of weird alternate universe.

[Paul_M] understood

[Laura Leff] We don't have a brick-and-mortar site where people can come to see the programs.

[Laura Leff] So the way we make our shows available is through the video library. And happily, most users also make a voluntary donation when they get access to the material.

[Paul_M] that brings up another question of mine....

[Laura Leff] But there's no obligation to pay.

[Laura Leff] I don't have the rights to the shows, and I can't sell them. So we don't.  

[Laura Leff] OK, off my soapbox.

[Paul_M] would you get in trouble if you posted small clips of JB video material on the website?

[Brad from Georgia] Seriously, Jack would be so pleased to know that in 2010 fans still want to see his shows.

[Laura Leff] I just need to put that philosophy out there in conjunction with the statement that not everything is PD.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Not if we posted PD material.

[Paul_M] understandable

[Laura Leff] I suppose we could if we posted music, because technically that's still under copyright.

[Laura Leff] But YouTube doesn't seem to be suffering from that issue now.

[Laura Leff] The family is actually interested in helping us do that to make the video library available.

[Paul_M] i keep finding more Benny stuff on Archive.org...and now someone posted a Danny Thomas Show with JB...i woulda thought that show was copyrighted

[Brad from Georgia] Major gripe: my telephone company made me replace my old cell phone, and the new one they gave me won't let me use my recording of Jack playing "Love in Bloom" as a ringtone.

[Laura Leff] I just don't want to do it while some of these things are in play, lest anyone get cold feet because they think I'm just going to post "their stuff" onto the Web.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Can't speak to the Danny Thomas show...I haven't researched those copyrights!

[Laura Leff] Brad - A member actually got the sheet music of LiB from me and programmed his ringtone with it.

[Laura Leff] Paul - I've even thought about linking to Archive.org, but they're also violating the copyrights on the Benny radio shows, so I keep it separate.

[Brad from Georgia] I used a recording from a 1941 benefit performance on my old phone. New one won't let me upload .mp3's.

[Paul_M] Laura - I read somewhere that the lady that Marjorie Lord actually owns the copyright to the DT Show's final few seasons

[Laura Leff] Paul - Could be. I don't know who produced the show, or who would have registered the copyrights.

[Paul_M] Marjorie Lord, who played Danny Thomas' wife

[Laura Leff] Smart woman if she does.

[Paul_M] ya

[Laura Leff] OK, so it wasn't a quick aside from discussion of tonight's show.  


[Brad from Georgia] But Mary was funny as Phil. And she nailed his intonations.

[Laura Leff] Any more on copyright issues/questions?

[Paul_M] i'm sure i'll think of more...

[Laura Leff] Brad - Yeah! I've got to wonder if he coached her a bit.


[Laura Leff] I'm particularly fond of the line: "What are we aiming at?" "4:30"

[Brad from Georgia] I've tried and tried to do a Phil impression and can't do it to save my life. LL--that was a great line!

[Laura Leff] We got seriously lucky and had a great Canadian Phil Harris for our recreations.

[Paul_M] are you able to leave a mark next to an item stating that it is a PD item?

[Brad from Georgia] LL--Are there recordings of the recreations?

[Laura Leff] Paul - Mark as in...bug on the video? Or in the library listing?

User ed k has logged out.

[Paul_M] library listing

[Laura Leff] Brad - There's...an audio of the Waukegan recreation. I can't remember if we filmed the Los Angeles one or not.

[Brad from Georgia] Let's listen to that for the next chat!

[Brad from Georgia] Maybe pair it with the real thing?

[Laura Leff] Paul - Well, I've kind of done that for the TV shows by giving the copyright listing.

[Paul_M] ok

[Paul_M] i just noticed the listing last night

[Laura Leff] Paul - I'd have to do a lot more research on everything else we've got, which would take a LONG time!

[Laura Leff] Brad - Hmmm...an interesting thought.

[Brad from Georgia] I'd love to hear the recreation. Eddie is a joy to hear.

[Laura Leff] The problem is that I don't think I have it as an MP3.

[Brad from Georgia] Aw, crab crackers.

[Laura Leff] Oh, and you should hear the blooper in it.

[Laura Leff] Eddie handled it as smoothly as Jack would have.

[Laura Leff] People even thought we planned it.

[Paul_M] have you ever considered asking for help on the website, or looking into a site redesign? I build sites myself, and am willing to offer my help if you ever want to rebuild the site a bit

[Brad from Georgia] I'd love to hear it!

[Laura Leff] Paul - I appreciate that. The thing is that the look/feel of the Web site matches our newsletters and my books. So even though it's not particularly flashy, it's consistent.

[Paul_M] true

[Laura Leff] Brad - Let me see if I can find it, and what format it is.

[Brad from Georgia] BTW, in April I'm going into the studio for Atlanta Radio Theatre to record Tom Fuller's epic "Dancer in the Dark," a three-hour long series.

[Paul_M] cool, Brad

[Laura Leff] Wow

[Laura Leff] What are you performing?

[Laura Leff] What part?

[Brad from Georgia] As usual, I'm playing a New England codger. Professor Cletus Tremaine.

[Laura Leff] Not that I know the source material.

[Laura Leff] You and Parker Fennelley

[Brad from Georgia] It's a pastiche of H.P. Lovecraft. I'm an elderly retired professor from Miskatonic University.

[Brad from Georgia] I'll also have a part in "Blues for Johnny Raven," a raspy-voiced snitch for the detective.

[Laura Leff] Cool. Are these ever posted online?

[Brad from Georgia] I think some may be posted at the Atlanta Radio Theatre website--www.artc.org.

[Laura Leff] You should mention that on the Forum under "Other stuff we like". I bet people would enjoy it.

[Brad from Georgia] I was also Sergeant Colon in our adaptation of Terry Pratchett's "Guards! Guards!" My son was Nobby Nobbs. Fun show--our guest star was John Rhys-Davies. I will, LL.

[Laura Leff] Oh, and a purely personal gripe for your amusement.

[Laura Leff] Our books are printed by Booksurge, which recently merged with CreateSpace.

[Laura Leff] Both Amazon companies.

[Paul_M] are your books going to go digital also?

[Laura Leff] And Booksurge had set up our 2000-2005 back issues copy wrong, and I had to set it up again.

[Laura Leff] Paul - No, I've resisted that. Too easy to pirate.

[Laura Leff] So I set it up and resubmit the exact same files that were always there.

[Laura Leff] CreateSpace rejected them. There's a mention of Amazon.com in them.

[Brad from Georgia] Oh noes!

[Laura Leff] I looked in the text, and it's basically, "So-n-so has a book out that's available on Amazon.com. Check it out, it's good."

[Laura Leff] I talked with them and said, "Come on...it's not even saying anything pro or con about Amazon. And you've been printing it for years!"

[Laura Leff] Nope. No Amazon mentions. No exceptions.

User ed k has entered this room.

[Laura Leff] So subsequent copies of the book will have a big block over that area that says "CENSORED BY PRINTER"

[Laura Leff] I just need to update those pages in the PDF.

[Brad from Georgia] My agent is working on getting a bunch of my books out on Kindle. I asked him if there's money in it, and he said, "Oh, eigthy-five cents, a dollar now and then."

[ed k] sorry it kicked me out

[Laura Leff] OK, that's my gripe. Thanks for letting me share. Not that I gave you a choice.

[Laura Leff] Ed - I thought you were just bored by the copyright talk.  

[Brad from Georgia] My new publisher, Sourcebooks, sent me my galleys for "Flight of the Outcast" in mark-uppable PDF. First time I've ever worked with it.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Do you like it?

[Brad from Georgia] Hard to get the hang of it, Laura. I kept accidentally putting in insert points without meaning to insert anything, and I couldn't find out how to remove them.

[Brad from Georgia] Gee, that sounded dirty....

[Laura Leff] I haven't marked up that much PDF yet, so haven't tried it.

[Brad from Georgia] But it's proofreading. How racy could it be?

[Laura Leff] Depends on what you're proofreading, I suppose.

[Laura Leff] Well, anything else for this month, or shall we call it good?

[Paul_M] i must go now....i'll probably think of more questions about copyright at some time, Laura....what is the best way to pay for special collections ? If I pay the $10 donation, is the cost of the disc and shipping part of that, or how much more should i pay

[Brad from Georgia]  

[Paul_M] i was looking at ordering SC #7 and #8

[Brad from Georgia] Yeah, small, select group, good show, interesting info. Thanks, all!

[Laura Leff] Paul - That's part of the library process...you've got to send a blank disc. Another process that separates me from taking money and returning a product, thus "selling" the shows.

[Paul_M] ok

[Paul_M] and how about the return shipping?

[Brad from Georgia] Yes, do you prefer SASE's?

[Laura Leff] Paul - Ah...the donation is entirely up to you. The return shipping will depend on how you package the blank, but you can calculate it based on weight at www.usps.com.

[Paul_M] how much is media mail from Ohio to CA?

[Paul_M] ok

[Laura Leff] Whatever packaging is used to send the blanks is what I use to return it. SASE's are very cool and make my life easier, but not required.

[Laura Leff] Paul - Depends on weight.

[Brad from Georgia] Paul--it's about $2.50 for the first 11 oz., IIRC.

[Laura Leff] Paul - You can look it up at www.usps.com.

[Paul_M] i'll find some media mailers....don't think they stole anything from that clustered room

[Laura Leff] Sounds good...I'll keep an eye out for it.

[Laura Leff] OK, well, thanks for stopping tonight! Talk with you in March!

[Brad from Georgia] Best of luck with the rest of 2010, Paul!

[Paul_M] Nice chatting with you all!

[Brad from Georgia] Goodnight, all.