Deconstructing Pop Culture

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Without a Script

March 18th, 2008 by David Kronemyer · No Comments

A couple of years ago I was the subject of a profile in the Los Angeles Daily Journal. The topic: reality television. Here’s a .jpg of the front page of the article. Some quotes from the text (which, incidentally, I still totally stand by):

David Kronemyer … heads a production company called Cerberus Films. [He] believes reality shows are fertile ground for idea theft lawsuits. He says he thinks this trend will continue because many competing parties, such as network executives and producers, want to capitalize on a limited pool of workable show ideas, usually centered on competition, romance, self-improvement or revealing unguarded moments.

Kronemyer … knows all too well the importance of keeping reality-show ideas as secret as possible. “Right now I have an unscripted series in the works for Discovery Channel UK,” says Kronemyer, who declined to describe his idea further. “All this reality stuff is so fungible, it really is like there are no unique ideas, and if I describe the premise in any detail, there’s a chance that someone else will beat us to the punch and do the show before we can.”

Kronemyer thinks the premises at the center of reality shows are often the most important part of the finished product, and hence the part most in need of protection from competitors. “Scripted shows have many more moving parts, maybe 100 unique elements: the dialogue, the characters, the show premise, the scenery designs,” says Kronemyer … “But a reality show might only have 10 elements because you’re working without a script and with random people selected to take part,” he says.

Kronemyer says stolen-idea plaintiffs would have to prove the defendant not only had access to their ideas but also then went on to air shows shockingly similar to those ideas. “I think the bulk of these cases will end up siding with the defendants, the one that got the shows on the air,” Kronemyer says. “I think judges are going to take a hands-off approach and basically let the different shows fight it out in the marketplace,” he says.