Sunday, November 2, 2008

Logos, Brand Names, Art work, Legal Stuff.....

I just found out about "Magnum Mania" and saw an interesting comment about "Ormel Beans" or something like that.  In TV (even back then--more so now) you cannot show any logo,  brand name, trademark image or even something like the Energizer Bunny.  It can be considered a form of advertising and/or product placement.  In feature films, there are entire product placement companies that will give you things to use if you show their label.  In fact, if you see a can of Coke in a major film, Coke probably paid $50,000 to get it there.  If they add a line, "Hey, how about a Coke?" you could probably add a couple of hundred thousand more.  It's the opposite in TV.  Show a can of Coke and you have now eliminated any possibility that Pepsi is going to buy a commercial or be a sponsor.  As was pointed out to me once,  TV shows are nothing but fillers between the commercials.  It is true if you think about it.  (sad, but true)

On Magnum, we regularly "greeked out" (no, not a racial slur) labels or logos.  I remembered on an episode where someone fell into a truck of pineapples and crashed into a display of them or something to that effect.  Dole gave me dozens of boxes with their pineapple logo and name on it.  We covered up the "D" and turned them into "Ole Pineapples."  I was worried that we could get in trouble not because we had covered up the "D", but "Ole" sounded Spanish/Mexican and Mexican pineapples were/are major competitors of Dole.  Anyway, no one said anything.  There was also an old rule (now gone) that if you showed more than 3 or 4 of something, it was ok because you weren't featuring one brand.  So a magazine rack with Time, Newsweek, etc. was ok.  Now, you can't show ANY names.  Even on "LOST" which is  ultimately a Disney owned show, we could never show anything like Mickey Mouse in a kids room.  All magazine covers were custom made and cleared that they did not exist anywhere.

As far as the art work on the walls during Magnum days, there were never any restrictions.  Anybody's art work was fair game back then.  I used Peggy Hopper since her work was"in" and   photographed well, I later used a lot of Gary Reed's and other artists.  After all, their work was being seen by millions around the world, right?   Even things like the Gaugains,  Picasso, and others used on the permanent sets were, well, just used!  How times have changed.

Any art work used on any set today is (in legal terms) considered a form of reproduction.  Even if you own an original painting or other artist created work, you will never own the actual rights to display that on a TV show any more than you could use the image on cocktail napkins or calendars.  Only the original artist or legal guardian/owner of the work can sign a release--even with museum works as well.  It has turned into a nightmare for decorators and a huge business for companies in L.A. who now rent "cleared art."  I remember doing a show once and wanted to use an artists work (who had agreed) and brought over the release for her to sign.  It was in a very  "legalese" language and even contained a clause about "theme park usage" and "forms of media not yet known" , etc.  I probably would have been scared to sign it, too.  She didn't sign.  So compared to now, Magnum was in the "good old days" for yet another reason that you now know!

There was an episode with a character who was supposed to be doing a sort of John Wayne imitation and Mr. Wayne's family controlled estate was approached about some posters or memorabilia.  That would be a NO!  Images are very protected as to when and where they can be used--not to mention what they can charge to use them.  I was having a hard time finding some black and white photos I needed for a MOW I did earlier this year.  It was getting too difficult to find and too late so I just took my own photos, ran them through photoshop and framed them.  I was warned by the producer to still sign a release for them and state that they were created on company time and with company purchased materials lest I come back later and demand compensation.   Great for artists (and lawyers), pain in the --- for decorators!  

Yet another bit of TV trivia for you to ponder..........
Aloha

6 comments:

SelleckLover said...

Thanks for clarifying regarding using logos and brand names. There has been much discussion about this on the Magnum-Mania web site, i.e. "Coops" beer, etc. There has also been much discussion about the music, along those same lines.

Magnum Decorator said...

Because the actors touched the beer bottles (I didn't make up these rules!), they were considered props so Rick Dineri took care of these. Fake brand names usually had to run by the legal / clearance department. I doubt that they would allow "Coops" beer today or they could expect a lawsuit from Coors. I mean did anyone look at Coops Beer and not think Coors? That's just the way it was.

If you pay the license fee, you can use just about any music. Of course then you also have to pay the musicians if they are playing it. Post and Carpenter did a lot of original music just to avoid the situation. It goes on and on, but if the show is using and making money off of your original art, music,or writing then you should get a piece of it. Trust me, your piece is a lot smaller than theirs!

James J. Walters said...

Rick, your blog is fantastic! It's such a pleasure to read about your experiences on the show! Thank you so much for sharing all of this! :)

I've put a link to your blog on all pages that have a right-column @ magnum-mania.com

Magnum Decorator said...

Thanks James! I have to say, applause helps! I think I sort of "over-posted" in my first week so I'm just catching my breath (and catching up on all that I ignored). I appreciate the encouragement and there will be more! Rick

Elez_von_vukovar said...

aaah..what say?..I am surprised about your blog.Your job must be interesting and respectable.today If I could be a producer and screen writer I would magnum p.i. after 20 years return and all old actors:Higgins,t.c,rick and Magnum in "older" condition in new adventures 2008.your blog and magnum-mania are my the most visit sites on the net..

Anonymous said...

Anyone happen to know what brand bush jacket higgins wore?