MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

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Thad
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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:34 am

Playboy has an article up called The Battle Over the Worst Movie Ever, about the feud between Hal Warren's son and a fan named Ben Solovey, who's released a remastered version of the film. (It's SFW, though a private browsing window might be in order so playboy.com doesn't show up in your history.) Warren insists that Manos is copyrighted, not public domain as everybody else has thought up to this point.

In 2013, he discovered among his father’s belongings a notice of copyright for the screenplay. A friend dug through the Library of Congress records and confirmed it was more than just a submission—the script had been logged, which Warren interprets to mean the movie itself is protected.

No one, however, knows for sure, as no precedent exists and no one seems willing to spend the money to have a court figure it out. “No copyright filed for theatrical release and no copyright notice on the film from that period is a fatal, defective thing,” says Ian Friedman, Solovey’s attorney. “But in the end, it’s not whether you’re right or wrong. It’s whether you want to litigate it.”


By a strange coincidence, just this morning I reread a 2012 blog post that I wrote on this very subject. Here's what I said then:

And so while, again, it's totally understandable if Warren has a sense of ownership toward the property, and is miffed when somebody else exploits its public-domain status without his family's blessing -- well, if somebody hadn't exploited its public-domain status without his family's blessing, we wouldn't be having this conversation. If Manos hadn't entered into the public domain and wound up in a box of movies that eventually made their way to Frank Conniff and MST3K, there would be no Manos sequel, no Manos restoration, no Manos documentary -- because nobody would know what the fuck Manos was.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Thu Oct 01, 2015 2:35 am



Also, Rifftrax Live: Miami Connection is tomorrow night. Don't think I'll make it; it's my birthday and I've got other plans. And it doesn't look like they're doing a rerun next week on this one.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:22 am

Yeah, we watched Miami Connection on Outerheaven a few weeks ago and it was a joy. I tried getting a group interested for the Rifftrax Live showing, but it's a bad time for everyone.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:50 pm


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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:13 am



Rifftrax is now selling MST3K episodes, starting with Pumaman and Final Sacrifice.

They're a little pricey at $10 a pop, but take a gander at this sentence:

This is finally a chance for Mike, Kevin, AND Bill to directly benefit from their awesome work at Mystery Science Theater 3000.


Bill has been pretty vocal in his displeasure about not receiving any kind of profit participation from the show's continuing success, so this right here is a great step on BBI's part. I think they still need to do right by Mary Jo, and anybody else who isn't getting compensated for the video releases, but again, this is a good first step. If you want to buy these episodes (or any others they release from here on in, apparently every Monday), I think it's worth the extra $2 to get them from Rifftrax instead of Amazon and make sure the stars get a cut.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:37 am

I saw that too... definitely worth the ten bucks to throw some money at Mike and the crew.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:36 pm



Well now. Looks like an announcement's finally coming on the long-planned return of the series.

I suspect the timing of the Rifftrax announcement is not coincidental, and that this is likely to mean that Mike, Kevin, and Bill will be a lot more amenable to guest appearances on Turkey Day and the (presumptive) new show.


ETA: Someone in the comments notes that Best Brains, Inc. has just changed its name to Consolidated Puppets, Inc. So yeah, the Rifftrax deal seems to be part of a general restructuring in preparation for the relaunch.

Apparently mst3k.com did a closeout sale and then was taken down except for an "Under Construction" page, too, and J Elvis Weinstein recently said they're about to shut Cinematic Titanic down. So yeah, gears are definitely turning.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:26 pm

Aaaaand it's a Kickstarter. Yay?

Joel's looking to raise $2M to make three episodes to demonstrate demand and shop around to TV stations. The goal should be easy to meet as it's already a quarter of a way there on day 1; additional money will be used to make additional episodes. Additional money past 12 episodes will be used for some live events.

EW has more:

Those who he hopes to get involved include past cast members and writers, as well as a brand new cast that includes a fresh host as well as a new mad scientist and new voices for famous wise-cracking robots Tom Servo and Crow. “Basically, I’m trying to blend the old with the new,” says Hodgson. “Mystery Science Theater has already refreshed itself once with a completely new cast, so I think it deserves to do that again. The original cast is going to be invited back to write, produce, and do cameos as their mad science characters, and then there’s a new cast with new talent.”


ETA:

Also, Variety says that Shout! Factory has bought MST3K outright. I guess that explains the claim that Jim Mallon has divested himself of ownership with the seeming contradiction that he is still listed as the CEO of Puppets Consolidated (the former Best Brains): he still owns the company, but the company no longer owns MST3K.

AND, MEANWHILE, here's that AMA (which I believe is still in progress as I write this).

Joel wrote:I've already talked with the actors I'd like to bring onto the show as the next host and the next Mad, and you'll meet both of them in the next few days. In fact, the next host is in the video you've already seen… but I'll give him a proper introduction. I'll introduce you to the next Crow and Servo, too. We actually shot a few videos for the Kickstarter with all of them, since there was so much we wanted to talk about. Those will be out soon, and I can't wait, because I'm really happy about all of them. I think they'll do great.


Consensus seems to be that the new host (who we only see in silhouette in the Kickstarter video) is Jonah Ray.

ETA 2: A couple of Joel's more interesting responses so far:

He's got a breakdown of that $2M goal:

Image

He also says,

the new Mad will be the offspring of Dr. Clayton Forrester, and the grandchild of Pearl Forrester, and therefore heir to the MST3K Experiment.


Given his gender-neutral choice of words, some folks are inferring that the new Mad will be a woman.

He's also said that, while they'll still be focusing primarily on old bad movies, some newer ones will probably make it in there too. (He has, after all, cited Final Sacrifice as one of his all-time favorites, and that's the most recent movie the original show ever did.) He's said that he intends to avoid famously bad movies (from Plan 9 to The Room), just as the original series did, because they're such predictable and well-worn choices. I think that's a good call; while I enjoy seeing Rifftrax do movies I've seen before, I've commented in the past that I always loved the surprise that came with seeing an episode of MST3K and wondering where the fuck they dug this movie up.

Why pick a movie that's already famous when you can pick an obscure movie and make it famous? Manos being the most obvious example.

He's also mentioned that everybody at the $100 donation level and above will get DRM-free downloads of all the new episodes they make. No word yet on DRM-free piecemeal downloads once they're done, but I wouldn't bet against it.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:07 am

Meanwhile, in annotated episode news:



And in Rifftrax/MST3K news, this week's episode for sale is Mitchell, which definitively answers the question of whether Rifftrax will only be selling Sci-Fi-era shows.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:40 pm

Latest KS update has Joel answering some FAQ's. There's the breakdown of costs, as well as some talk about how none of the old cast has signed on yet except for him.

Right now, I don't know who will agree to come back and work on the next season of MST3K… but if the Kickstarter is successful, everyone will be invited to take part.

Until yesterday, I wasn't even sure this whole Kickstarter idea would work. I've reached out and spoken with some of the old cast and writers, but until I knew how much money we'd have to work with – and when we'd start writing and shooting – there was just no way to make the specific offers that I hope will bring many of them back.

Plus – as many of you know – so far, the old cast haven't been compensated as well as they (or I) might have liked. I wish I could go back and fix that, but if I'm going to ask them to participate in the next season, I want to be certain we can pay them what they deserve this time. As soon as we pass our initial goal of $2,000,000, I'm hoping to start making the invitations official, and I hope some of them will be able to join us before we start working in January.


Nobody from the old cast has stated so far that they'll be involved (except Joel himself), and several have stated pretty definitively that they won't.






Mike goes into more detail on Facebook, and states that yes, definitively, his choice not to participate in the new series is about ownership and profit-sharing.

So, I mean, given that Joel's update explicitly addresses the issue of profit-sharing, it's possible he could change their minds. And Trace does acknowledge that he hasn't read that update yet. But I wouldn't go getting your hopes up. It is entirely possible that there is no offer Joel can make that will entice the old cast and writers into returning, even for a one-off cameo. There are a lot of reasons why somebody might not want to return; profit-sharing is one of them, but being busy with other projects (which they actually own) is another. And some may just want to get on with their lives and do something different -- even if, yes, "something different" may be something pretty similar, and even if they might reference MST3K in marketing it.

And that's about as far as I want to go in speculating about former cast members' motives. I'm looking forward to the new show; I'm also looking forward to new Rifftrax, and I think it's cool that Trace and Frank are out there touring, too. I hope Joel and Shout get some kind of profit-sharing arrangement in place with all the former cast members, regardless of whether any of them choose to be involved with the new show, because that's the right thing to do.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:24 pm

The goal's been reached. MST3K is coming back.

As thanks for hitting the goal in under a week, Joel says he's adding another perk to the $35 donation level: three more (currently unspecified) classic episodes for download, in addition to the first new episode.

I'm saving pennies right now, but I figure $35 is probably the donation level I'll be going in on when I can.

Jonah Ray confirmed as host.

I'm seeing people in the Info Club comments section claim that EW has claimed that Felicia Day is playing the villain and Baron Vaughn and Hampton Yount are playing Servo and Crow (not sure which is which; doesn't matter to me since I don't know who they are). Can't find the alleged article on EW that actually says any of this, but Day has been rumored pretty much from the moment the Kickstarter launched.

I like Day and I'm interested in seeing her play a villain. But more than that, there's a practical reason why she's an excellent choice: there is nobody better at launching a cult series on the Internet with a shoestring budget and no studio support.

I'm seeing people bitch about this stuff, because Internet. I'm seeing people complain that they're just picking "Internet Celebrities". Apparently oblivious to the point that the reason Felicia Day is an Internet Celebrity is the exact same reason that she is the best possible person to have in your corner on a project like this.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:20 pm

Latest MST3K episode on Rifftrax is Future War.

(ALSO: Earlier I said The Final Sacrifice was the most recent movie MST3K ever did. It isn't, but it's in the top 10. Mike refers to Future War as the most recent movie the show ever did, which is correct if you go by release date. (If you go by shooting dates, it's Werewolf.))

Also, the E-Mail clarifies the profit-sharing arrangement:

P.S.: A significant share of the profits of all MST3k episodes sold on RiffTrax.com will be paid out directly to ALL principal cast members of MST – Mike, Joel, Kevin, Bill, Mary Jo, Trace, Frank, Josh and Bridget. We feel it’s important that the original artists benefit directly from their awesome work. So if you want to support them, buy your MST here on RiffTrax!


Mary Jo said a week ago that she wasn't getting any money from the Rifftrax sales of MST3K episodes, so this arrangement appears to have just come together in the past few days.

Seems a bit odd to list Bridget as a primary cast member but not Paul Chaplin (who played Gypsy for most of the series); it seems like nobody's heard out of him in a few years so I suppose it's possible they just don't know how to contact him.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:33 am

Haven't had time to mention how unbelievably delighted I am that MST3K is coming back under Joel. I adore Mike, but if Rifftrax has shown me anything, it's that a good amount of his MST3K-era comedy was touched up by the writers.

There's certain Rifftrax that are wonderful return-to-form gems, like Jack the Giant Killer or Mike/Fred Willard's Missile to the Moon, but nothing's quite captured the magic for me like the Cinematic Titanic ep Joel, Pearl, Frank and Trace did on The Alien Factor. So, I've got a lot more faith in Joel as a showrunner than Mike.

I checked out some stand-up by Jonah Ray and ehh. We'll have to see. I'm really not crazy about Felicia Day either, since she's just so bland. I dunno! I'm hopeful but I definitely have some reservations.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:42 pm

Okay, watched a few more videos of Jonah's stand-up, and uhhhhhh

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby beatbandito » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:39 pm

Yeah, that was a pretty sad display.

Felicia Day is really a loaf of enriched white bread in human form. But at least has the redeeming quality of having worked on a ton of different mediums and presumably knowing her shit back stage.
Image

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:01 pm

Yeah, there's a lot to unpack about all this stuff, and I can feel my reply turning into a blog post. I'll probably circle back later.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:46 pm

TURKEY DAY: Where can I watch the MST3K TURKEY DAY '15 MARATHON? What devices can I use?

Thanks to our friends at Shout Factory, you'll be able to watch this year's TURKEY DAY on most every technological viewing-screen device known to mankind!

Here's the most up-to-date list of how you can watch:

COMPUTER / WEB
• Right here at BringBackMST3K.com
• On Yahoo: https://screen.yahoo.com/mst3k

APPLE iOS DEVICES
• Pluto TV App, Channel 428: http://apple.co/1kHz6Mh
• Yahoo App: http://apple.co/1MoXzPv

ANDROID DEVICES
• Pluto TV App, Channel 428: http://bit.ly/google-plutotv
• Yahoo App: http://bit.ly/google-yahooTV

AMAZON DEVICES
• Pluto TV App, Channel 545: http://amzn.to/1HaTU98

AMAZON FIRE TV
• Pluto TV App, Channel 545
• Yahoo

APPLE TV
• Pluto TV App, Channel 545
• Yahoo

ANDROID TV
• Pluto TV App, Channel 545

CHROMECAST
• Pluto TV App, Channel 545
• Yahoo

ROKU
• Pluto TV App, Channel 545
• Yahoo

SAMSUNG TV, SONY TV, TIVO, VIZIO
• Yahoo

XBOX 360, XBOX ONE:
• Yahoo

Also, for those of you who like to live by your own rules and timetable: Pluto TV will run the broadcast as a livestream, while Yahoo will have a different version of the marathon available on-demand, so that you can watch whenever you want.


From Joel's description it sounds much like last year: 3 Joel episodes, 3 Mike episodes, some new host segments. He says there'll be new reader mail segments, and while he hasn't mentioned the new cast showing up I think it's a pretty safe bet.

(Also if you jump back to page 2 it looks like 5 out of the 6 episodes from last year's Turkey Day still work.)

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:35 am

Thad wrote:Yeah, there's a lot to unpack about all this stuff, and I can feel my reply turning into a blog post. I'll probably circle back later.


Multiple blog posts, as it turns out.

Part 1 is up but it's just review.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:36 pm

And Part 2 is mostly stuff I've already said in the thread. Next post is where I intend to tackle some of the stuff Mothra was saying about the difference between MST3K and Rifftrax (and also CT). I think.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sat Nov 21, 2015 1:16 pm

And now, at last, my roundabout series of posts gets to my thoughts on what Mothra said about the Sci-Fi era vs. Rifftrax, in Part 3.

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