Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stolen City?

Xeus contacted me yesterday in a panic. She'd just seen this poster for a new TV series called Dark City (also the title of her collection of short stories) due to aired weekly on AstroRia on Wednesday nights ... and which she has had nothing to do with whatsoever. Clearly the producers, Niche Films are cashing in on the buzz created by the book, and while there is most probably no legal case to answer (the name isn't trademarked and any way was in any case the title of a previous film), perhaps there probably is a moral one particularly if Xeus isn't credited as she certainly created the brand identity locally!

Swifty picked up the story yesterday, and points out that Xeus blogged about turning the production company down some time back principally because of the intellectual property issue.

I'm happy to see local screenwriters getting a shot at this kind of venture, and will try to programme my befuddled brain to take a look on Wednesday ... but one local writer is left with a very nasty taste in her mouth.

80 comments:

John Ling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i am one of the people involved in the series. all i can say is, this series has given a lot of young talents in the industry a platform to show what they can do. and these young talents are trying hard to push the envelop in terms of local TV content. and i must take my hat off to Niche Films for trusting these new directors and writers enough to give them the opportunity.

the series was actually already in development before the producers even knew about Xeus's book. maybe they liked the title. i don't know.

i always thought Xeus was very well aware of what was going on, becos another writer who is a close friend of hers (and also mine) knew what Niche was doing with the series.


Viz

Anonymous said...

DON'T LISTEN TO JOHN LING. PLS TUNE IN!!!



Viz

The Great Swifty said...

Why no one pointed out that Dark City is also the title of this popular sci-fi cult film is beyond me.

Let's see how this goes.

Anonymous said...

and Miss Biblio, cashing in would hardly be the case as the book is in English and the series is in Malay.


Viz

animah said...

Whilst one cannot trademark a title, Xeus can certainly consider a passing off action ( a common law remedy) - although it is tougher to establish.

Viz, I have nothing against the younger set being creative and prolific, but there needs to be an understanding in the industry as to Intellectual Property Rights, plagarism and decent common respect amongst "creators".

I'm afraid I'll have to "tune out" simply because I don't have Astro.

Anonymous said...

where is "plagiarism" in this case? the stories are all originals.


Viz

nel said...

... don't have astloh, poor guy-lah ... solli loh ... :)

sympozium said...

So if the series is in Malay, why use a well-known and ENGLISH title? Call it Bandar Gelap then. On the face of this, and before looking at all other evidence, I'd say a good IP lawyer will have a good case against the film company.

bibliobibuli said...

i am one of the people involved in the series. all i can say is, this series has given a lot of young talents in the industry a platform to show what they can do. and these young talents are trying hard to push the envelop in terms of local TV content. and i must take my hat off to Niche Films for trusting these new directors and writers enough to give them the opportunity.

plagiarism isn't the issue at all. animah was speaking more generally of a lack of respect for creative rights. decent common respect hits the mark though, i feel.

i applaud this too, viz. my comments aren't about the contents or the value of the series but about xeus' justifiably (in my opinion)hurt feelings. i am really glad that you have had a chance to write for the series and mustn't miss that.

swifty - both you and i provided a link to the film ... and you're right, the title wasn't original, but here in malaysia xeus has worked tirelessly to promote her book and also has a second collection "dark city 2" coming out. i guess it is too late for her to change the name now ...

viz - why not "bandaraya gelap" then? no, "dark city" is catchier and there are already mental associations with the title ... even if the viewers don't read in english they will have seen the book in the shops perhaps ...

(Ohh i see sympozium has made exactly the same point ... great minds, huh?)

I'd say a good IP lawyer will have a good case against the film company.

i told xeus that i thought so on the phone yesterday and recommended that she contact an IP lawyer.

perhaps though an apology and a disclaimer might soothe feelings a bit.

Anonymous said...

then do not bring up the word "plagiarism" at all. it's like insinuating that there was something plagiarised.

so there's a case? how? why?

if so, then we should ask the producers of the Hollywood film to take action as well. and how about Tom Waits suing Ho Yuhang for using the title Rain Dogs?

oh heck, let's get the creator of 300 Bullets to sue John Ling as well.

huh?

or as my friend said, let the creator of Superman sue all other persons who ever created a superhero that FLIES.

the problem here is that everyone's making it out to seem like there was this evil feller sitting behind a desk going "hey, let's steal someone's idea! MUAHAHAHAHAH!" when that is actually so far from the truth.


this is the last thing i will say on this matter. bye all.


i just hope everyone will still tune in to the show. thanks.

bibliobibuli said...

animah wasn't insinuating that this was plagiarised, and that was clear enough to me in her statement. she saw the appropriation of an already successful and recognised name as part of a wider (Malaysian) culture of disregard for the intellectual property of others

the idea for the series was based on xeus' book, that much we know. there is no copyright on names but what if xeus wants to create a tv series based on her stories now?
(she has been seriously thinking of it) clearly she won't be able to do that now.

and what about her second book in the pipeline which will now, for better or worse, be associated with the tv series? she has put time and effort into promoting her work in malaysia under this title, and surely even you must understand the reason for her upset?

it isn't that the producers of the show accidentally and coincidentally chose this name - they were in negotiations with her before she pulled out!

she is actually worried that some of the content of her stories might have been used, but it's only by watching the series that she will know one way or the other.

all that aside, i look forward to something good and scary on local tv and i'm sorry if this post makes you - a writer - feel bad about something that is in no way your fault.

Anonymous said...

Miss Biblio,

thanks for a very sensible reply. hope you enjoy the show.


Viz

Xeus said...

Dear all,

Thank you so much for the comments. I blogged about Niche Films contacting me back in April. They wanted to use the title of the book 'Dark City' and 3 of the short stories in it, namely Psychotic, Coup of the Century and A Grave Error. I was contacted to do the scripts for them and so was my writer friend.

But they did mention no rights would be paid, so after consulting a few scriptwriters in the industry, I pulled out. (I blogged about this in April as well).

Now, if any of the content of the book was used, then there is a case in contention. But if the stories are all original, then it doesn't matter. However, the original sypnosis for this series Dark City which was proposed to Astro was shown to me and the contents did indeed cite 3 of the episodes to be taken from the book.

Everything remains to be seen on whether these 3 episodes were actually taken.

I'm very glad that Niche Films has given so many people the opportunity to direct and act in this series, but it would be very hard for me to produce a series based on my book and its sequel called 'Dark City' now.

Kak Teh said...

I received an email abt this too - but was frantically searching for xeus's name - nothing!
Is it the same with Datin Diaries? There is a Datin Diaries blog and now there's a series on TV called Datin Diaries.

bibliobibuli said...

yes, i noticed "the datin diaries" on tv which seemed to ahve nothing to do with the very well-written and popular blog. i think it's a similar phonomena "ooh look. this is a cult blog. maybe if we call our tv series after it out ratings will go up."

i'm not waiting for a thriller called "bibliobibuli"

Kak Teh said...

hehe - i dont think there'll be a comedy called choc-a-blog either. Oh sharon, am waiting to hear some good news soon. will write to you.

sympozium said...

"and how about Tom Waits suing Ho Yuhang for using the title Rain Dogs?"

- What Tom Waits wants to do is Tom Waits's business. And we all know tom waits for no man heheheh!

If you want to use a title based on a song, or something, the least you can do is attribute it to the author lah.

Anyway, the lawsuit should stir up some publicity for all parties.

What it all comes down to is to indicate the painful lack of originality in Malaysian TV/film production groups...Bet you soon there'll be a local version of Desperate Housewives - Surirumahtangga2...uhh. what's Malay for Desperate? And Lost (Hilang)...

bibliobibuli said...

"genting" means desperate according to my dictionary, which fits very well

it can't be good feng-shui to head up to desperate highlands!

sympozium said...

Isn't "genting" a narrow pass between mountains as well?

No, one becomes "genting" AFTER coming down from Desperate highlands :-)

Argus Lou said...

Niche is rather 'genting' to fashion and promote its series so closely to Xeus's 'Dark City'. Even if none of the episodes has stolen any plot from her book, it's still a question of ethics. Perhaps Niche can do the right thing and give a nod to Xeus by including the creditline:
"Inspired by the book Dark City, a best-selling Malaysian short story anthology by Xeus." Ignoring her and her efforts in successfully promoting the 'franchise' is just not on.

Funny how the promo poster for the series is all in English, even the episode titles -- and the series is in Malay?!

Now the irony could be: some folk -- who haven't heard of the book but watch the series and then see the book 'Dark City 2' coming out next -- will think the book is a rip-off of the television series. Heh.

Quite beside all that, I'm glad many new writers got a break writing for the series and actors scored roles to sink their teeth into.

John Ling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lydia Teh said...

Plan of action, Xeus?
1. View DC on Astro to verify if contents copied for 3 episodes.
2. Consult IP lawyer

Meanwhile, this is good publicity for both the tv series and your book. Hope it turns out well for all parties. There may just be a silver lining in all of this. Take heart.

The tv series sound very tantalizing. I would watch it if I have Astro.

animah said...

From what I read above, it sounds like Xeus has a good case. She must definitely consult an IP lawyer. Sharon, I can recommend some names, offline, if she's interested. I'm sure Sympozium has recommendations too.

What Niche may not realise is how this can actually affect Xeus' reputation (if the tv series falls short of her quality - I'm not saying it will, just "if" - so don't hurl brickbats my way).

My earlier comment was meant for the industry overall, not specifically this tv series. Sharon was spot on.

bibliobibuli said...

xeus may not want to fight even if she can fight. let's wait and hear what the story is ...

Xeus said...

Guys, so many lawyers! Yes, yes, please give me a few addies... Dark City is on tonight on Astro Ria. My publisher is taping it. From what I have seen about Niche Films productions (they gave me a CD to watch on something they made called Taxi Driver), the actors are trilingual, meaning they speak Malay, English and Chinese interchangeably.

Such a pity Niche Films didn't want to go the normal straight way, I would have given them so much publicity.

But still, I am adopting a wait and see approach first.

Case in mind: McDonald's Malaysia sued McCurry for using the prefix 'Mc'. McCurry (an Indian curryhouse) argued that they were in a completely different food market, selling Indian curries, roti canai and stuff.

Verdict: McDonald's won the case.

Azmi said...

If I were Zeus, I would be sitting across the table with all of Niche Film or at least a rep from Niche and air my concerns directly with them. Remind them about the first encounter and let them explain how they ended up doing what they did just now and if they had consulted their lawyers when embarking on the project. I am sure there is some explanation and an amicable way to settle this, at least from the viewpoint that both parties are trying to promote local content. Zeus, if it is any "cheer" this has to be the most sincere form of flattery/compliment for your good work. All the best regardless of which course of action you decide on....it is a shame if as a family of artists, we end up sabotaging one another unintentionally....

Xeus said...

Azmi, you are right. But it's apparently been going on since the dawn of film. A lot of scriptwriters are complaining about the theft of their intellectual property, and the airing of shows they wrote overseas without them seeing a cent of it.

Poppadum said...

Nice blog! Will visit more often.

Argus Lou said...

Bib, I AM waiting for a thriller called 'Bibliobibuli'. It's about this Nurse Wretched type of librarian who bullies library users. Whoever is caught whispering within her earshot gets brained by a hardcover copy of 'War and Peace'.
She sneaks into our houses at night and twists our ears if she finds any dog ears in our book collections.
But she also stalks book censors and makes life hell for the Customs wannabe-neo-Napoleons who confiscate books at the border. And she raps Xeus's knuckles if 'Dark City 2' doesn't come out soon.

Tunku Halim said...

Sharon,

As a former IP lawyer, I agree with Aminah. Also, Xeus can obtain an injunction for the tort of passing off. This can happen in a matter of days!

Malaysia is a small place as far as the arts scene is concerned. So these things must be taken in context. The "Dark City" name is big in Malaysia. Anyone else who uses it ought to get Xeus's consent. It's simple business practise.

There is a "win win" situation here with cross publicity etc. I suggest the producers get in touch with Xeus and sort it out.

bibliobibuli said...

yes, this is what i've heard from elsewhere too halim. many thanks for adding your voice and experience to this.

Xeus said...

If only Tunku Halim were in Malaysia to defend our rights!
Sharon, I emailed you my email addy again.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks xeus, and i've replied with some useful info for you and some names to contact.

perhaps it would be an idea to bring the issue to the attention of the newspapers?

The Great Swifty said...

Ganbatte, folks.

Anonymous said...

Just because it's happened to screenwriters forever, doesn't mean that you should just let it go Xeus. As a writer, I won't watch the series because it's just plain bad manners of them and an exploitation of writers, fullstop. nobody has to be PC and say it's good for young creative people to get the opportunity blah blah blah, young creative people should far and foremost learn to respect fellow artists and writers. How would they feel if it happened to them? Anyway, this is endemic of tv in Msia today, everything ciplak. If they already spoke to Xeus about it, then they should know to not use the the title right? How basic is that? IF the series is so original in terms of the story, how come they can't come up with an original and bagus title? sounds pathetic.

bibliobibuli said...

anon - i think we have to differentiate between the production house and the writers in this case. this incident is unfortunate because some young writers are getting a big break with this.

Anonymous said...

The producers are the ones who say what title the series should have, Anonymous you idiot! Get your bloody facts right before you talk out of your arse! What kind of writer are you?

Anonymous said...

While we're on moral obligations, Bib, could you take a look at www.cambridgeforlife.org ? they teach English, and yet the site seems to contain quite a few grammatical errors. I would very much like a professional opinion on whether this is actually the case.

Maybe you should blog on moral obligations one day.

bibliobibuli said...

yes i spotted a couple of horrible grammar errors in as many minutes. i think you should write to them!!

Anonymous said...

I think either the Producers or Xeus should just change the title to "Darkest City"...

And frankly speaking, I don't believe that both the producers and Xeus have the rights to claim that "Dark City's" concept is their original idea... I've heard about Singapore Short Ghost Stories... I've read many compilation of ghost stories in an urban setting when I was young... And the fact that, nobody registered that title, so I don't see the big deal... Even if they have or have not "stole" your title and concept, I believe that your concept was also 'inspired' by someone else... And that someone else was inspired by someone else...

Asuman

ani said...

dear sharon, you may need to find a better dictionary. i don't quiet agree with your current dictionary definition of genting.

bibliobibuli said...

probably right, ani. this is the collins easy learning dictionary.

bibliobibuli said...

"e.g given = "situasi yang genting"

but i suppose it could be metaphorical ... being squeezed by the situation

bibliobibuli said...

it also seems to have the meaning "critical"

Chet said...

This is a bit OT - with regards to Genting Highlands, the name "Genting" is a (near) phonetic spelling of the resort's name in Chinese ("gen ting" means silver peak in Chinese, but don't know which dialect).

End of OT.

Poppadumdum said...

The Chinese characters of the name "Gen ting" means "Cloud" and "Peak" respectively.

Chet said...

*checks the Chinese characters for Genting*

poppadumdum is right. The Chinese character for "Gen" is cloud, which in Cantonese is pronounced "wun", while "gen" sounds like how "silver" is pronounced in Cantonese.

Poppadumdum said...

I thought silver in Canto is pronounced "Ngahn"... ? :-)

Chet said...

ngahn - gan - gen

Some non-Chinese find it difficult to pronounce the "ng" sound.

bibliobibuli said...

i sit here gobsmacked

Poppadumdum said...

That's pronounced "ngobsmacked" hahahaha!!!

Anonymous said...

So it seems to me that what we have here is a serious case of people who don't have a clue what they are talking about doing an awful lot of talking. Intellectual property is all well and good, but have any of you actually read the book Dark City? My goodness, to think that anybody would actually "steal" (to quote you marvelously slanderous blog title) such an enormous pile of bilge is a true leap of faith. It would imply that the writer actually possesses a modicum of intellect. I appreciate that your friend obviously has hurt feelings that her twee little word-baby pulp trash has been upstaged and she hasn't got a single sen from it (because we all know that is what it all boils down to in this country). Come on kids, she ain't exactly Shakespear now is she, in fact more of a Joanna Trollop in the gutter would be a more acurate description. I forced down over 60 pages of that trite plotless pap only to be totally uninterested by the weak and blatant twists of each and every one - the girl whose been dead all along, durr, waffle waffle waffle (hang on a second, wasn't Bruce Willis in a film about that years ago???).

It's lucky for Xeus that she is a Malaysian writer(ergo has no competition whatsoever in the "literature" department, aside from shelf upon shelf of pink-bound Malay weepies for bored housewives (I stand a little corrected by saying that Lee Su Kim is actually very readable) because if she was born out there in the rest of the world she wouldn't stand a hope in hell of publishing a single lame word. It's a well known fact however that she could go and do very well in the west, purely because she's an asian female but that doesn't mean she has any talent. So maybe she should. And do you really think that she won't take every opportunity to say "oh I wrote this little book once and someone turned it into a TV series". Ahem.

What your upset and upstaged friend should really be saying is "wow guys, thanks for inadvertantly giving me free publicity for my old book and the spun out cash-cow of a sequel, even though I don't have to write a single word for it the airtime and associations will no doubt draw peoples eyes to my book on the shelves in MPH. Wowee, that's really kind of you, to think that such a third rate author such as myself would get to feel all important and see 2 words that I picked out of a dictionary on the TV. Money for old rope!!!"

Stop the slander, stop the weak talk about IP lawyers, stop the hate-mongering nonsense and appreciate that the film company seem to be supporting young local talents in KL - giving them much needed opportunities to direct, write and perform (and the company actually pay their scriptwriters which is much more than can be said for the majority of production companies in the region, let alone that they pay unknowns premium rates for their intellectual property.)

My final word here is this - the average local rate for a script for TV is 700-800RM. The best screen writers here (for sitcoms etc) receive around 1100RM for their work. Niche pay 1100RM to NEW WRITERS!! Oh and by the way, isn't Dark City - the book - a compilation of stories. Not all done by Xeus if you read the book.
Maybe you should ask her how much she payed for the stories that she is profiting so handsomely from?

Just a thought lah

Anonymous said...

According to the Dark City blog, Xeus pays Rm150 ringgit for story submissions Nothing is mentioned about royalties though. Hopefully Xeus will not make the same mistake of not copyrighting Dark City 2, as he has a responsiblity to protect the writers

ASPIRING WRITER

Anonymous said...

If my story is accepted by Xeus for Dark City 2, and later I am approached by a production company who wants to develop it into a TV show or feature film, am I allowed to go ahead, or does or Xeus owns the rights?

ASPIRING WRITER

Anonymous said...

Depends on your contract lah!
You can't take active steps to postively 'copyright' something. If the criteria for copyright protection under the Copyright Act are satisfied, then that work is automatically granted copyright protection.
sympozium

bibliobibuli said...

not sure who this anonymouse is(cowards are always mice!) who runs down xeus' book so passionately

but the quality of the writing is not the issue here at all, is it?

and nothing said here at all is slander.

aspiring writer - sympozium is right, always understand what contract you are signing. usually in an anthology authors retain rights to their works

Satay Celup said...

Have you guys seen the movie "DOUBLE JEOPARDY"? I liked the one acted by Tommy Lee Jones & Ashley Judd. There is also another different movie of same title. So, what's the big deal? "Dark City" is a title of of a 1998 sci-fi movie and Xeus "celuped" this name for her book and make others believed it's her original. So what's the fuss now if Astro wants to "celup" Xeus's "celuped" title?

There's nothing intellectual or original creation or ideas for a lousy title. Look at it this way, there are so many "satay celup" shops in town now and claiming they are the original Malacca's "satay-celup".

Anonymous said...

I sound like I know so much, don't I?
Satay Celup

bibliobibuli said...

you clearly aren't following the argument satay celup. we've argued this point already. read back.

bibliobibuli said...

sorry, don't mean to sound grouchy. am naturally grouchy. all else is an illusion. :-D

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous who made the lengthy comment running down the book. But as you may have gathered there are quite a few anonymous comments on this page - I haven't made them all though you silly person. You may note that without a blogspot account you can't enter a name down (as is my case). And as for cowardice?!?! Before you get your knickers in a twist look to your own reflection my dear...
Bibliobibuli? Yes I can see your parents really did christen you with such a name. Indeed.
And my name is Arkansas Cheesenipple. Does that help?
The fact remains that the only reason your friend is so upset is that she either a: didn't recieve suitable levels of flattery and ego boosting from the production company so got all upset because she REALLY is important (boo hoo)
or
b: she isn't going to get a new car out of the deal

Don't be so petty

bibliobibuli said...

whose knickers are twisted?

my name is on this blog. i don't hide behind anonymity at all. perhaps you haven't looked?

secondly even you can use a name or a nickname. even though many of the comments are anonymous, many of my readers sign a name. and most of them i actually know.

whatever xeus decides to do is up to her and her lawyers.

bibliobibuli said...

anyway no-one is really that anonymous since their IP can be tracked ... just am too lazy sometimes.

so, you're a keen photographer?

Amir said...

Oo 65 comments! Is this the most popular Biblio post ever?

bibliobibuli said...

*LOL* yes amir - i should get angry about things more often!

amir said...

What? Me? What do I have to do with this? Oh. It's the OTHER Amir.

Such is the way intellectual property and intellectual courtesy is handled in Malaysia.

If you guys are really pissed off for some reason or another, simply write to the station. The station heads.

And for God's sake, the only thing that the producers needed to do to avoid all this nonsense was to change the bloody title.

Wah, so great, ah, Dark City? How about Into the Blue? Or Fantastic Four? Or Sin City? Or Yes! Another Jessica Alba Movie?

bibliobibuli said...

xeus is having trouble posting on the blog so asked me to put up this response:

"Hey, Sharon, sorry you have to be dragged into this :)

Anonymous obviously didn't understand the context of what I'm so upset
about, but if he has read the comments before shooting off a post so full of
vitriol, then he would be better served.

What I'm so upset about is not that somebody took the title (titles are not
copyrighted anyway) but the fact that I actually 'saw' the initial Dark City
proposal to Astro and it did contain 3 of my stories. I have a copy and
every single email Niche sent to me on the subject. Niche did say they will
get back to me about rights. But a lot of screenwriters also mention their
stories were ripped off by unscrupulous production companies and they didn't
get to see a single cent from their hard work.

So when Niche sent everyone a mass email announcing Dark City, I was afraid
they actually went ahead and took those 3 stories. Episode titles are
deceiving.

But now it looks like, as I've mentioned, none of the stories from the book
were taken. And YET, 3 IP lawyers who wrote to me say I STILL have a case if
I want to pursue it.

And it was actually Psychotic, the first story in Dark City, that the Niche
producers could see in their minds, shot frame by frame. That was supposed
to have been the first episode to have been shot in late April. And I was
supposed to have been the scriptwriter for it.

At least I can say Dark City 2 is the only anthology that actually pays
anything. There are 17 stories. Only 2 are mine. At RM 150 each, that would
be RM 2250. Any risk of the book not selling above that in royalties (and
writers only get 10%) would be borne by me. Which is more than I can say for
a lot of Malaysian anthologies who are given a grant of RM20,000 and don't
pay the writers a single cent. Everyone who wrote it understands this.

To everyone who is asking, the copyright of each individual story belongs to
the writer. In Dark City 2 copyright page, this is stated very clearly. The
story is yours to do as you wish.

And btw, top screenwriters in Malaysia get RM 2000 per 30 min episode. I
just talked to one the other day who is paid that price.

Get your facts right before shooting off."

bibliobibuli said...

there are too many amirs on my blog :-P

but you're absolutely right

Xeus said...

Ah, we know who Anonymous is. Apparently, he's been posting slandering remarks on a lot of blogs. He's actually quite a nice guy if you meet him in real life (at his shop) but under the cloak of anonymity, he goes around flaming people.

Apparently, a lot of people at other sites also know who he is. They checked his IP address.

We've actually bought things from his shop too. Is this any way to treat a customer?

amir said...

Shop? Book community? Book? SHop? Bookshop?

Hmmm.

Intelligentsia bookshop?

Silverfish? Really? You talking about Raman?

Or is it one of those discount bookstores and shit?

And slander? Really? Is it really slander or is THIS another slander?

C'mon. Fight to the death.

bibliobibuli said...

hey - don't monger rumours none of you! and for once not raman!!

amir said...

Okay. Not Raman then. But anyway: Fight to the death!

Any updates yet on this?

Anonymous said...

Don't "monger" rumors lol.. :)

How'd anyone know it's not anyone ? :)

bibliobibuli said...

no more news amir

Anonymous said...

I have so far refused to dignify this slog with a response, in the hope that this nonsense will go away, but have been urged by many of the young writers to come up with an official statement,( they do not wish to have their original work and ideas, inferred to be associated with the book, as it would seem to be suggested by this blog site)


Dark City, the TV show, is inspired by The Twilight Zone/X files/Amazing Tales.( this really should be obvious to anyone, if they would only take half a minute to think about it)

The title is inspired by Frank Miller's cult graphic novel "Sin City".

When we became aware of Xeus book, we contacted her and asked her permission to pitch 3 of her stories. Financial terms and credits were discussed and offered. Rights were not ours to give as they are Astro's property. Niche Films and Xeus could not come to an agreement, and so Xeus stories were withdrawn.

Don't take my word for it, check out Xeus blog
on friday 4th april

XUES BLOG FRIDAY 4TH APRIL

Here's the scoop. A production house has been offered a deal by a prominent station to produce a series on 3o minute twisted tales, pretty much like The Twilight Zone
or Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories.

They came up with a lot of their own story concepts for episodes. Then they ran out of ideas and stumbled upon Dark City, which is perfect fodder for episode material.

So I'm called to negotiate. (SIC)


Ms Bibblio,

Niche Films have behaved scrupulously and professionally at all levels.

This is simply a failed business negotiation between Xues and Niche films.

Unfortunately for us, anyone who has not been following the discussions, and scrolls down your blog, will find your factually incorrect and
slanderous implications.

If you were a journalist you would be legally beholden to check your sources.( And we would then sue you.) However as a blogger, you seem to hide behind the principal of freedom of opinion, which we totally support, but shame on you for tracking down IP addresses on the people who contribute to your blog!

You have written on MORAL obligations and professional courtesy, yet you choose to ignore the most basic courtesy of all i.e, getting BOTH sides of the story!

Needless to say, you did not take the botheration to get Niche Film's side of the story before embarking on your zealous crusade.

Perhaps the article stems from an overanxious need to defend a friend, but the reality is that your article intentionally cast a slur on Niche Film's good reputation.

I'd suggest you do the moral and concientious thing,

1) remove the article.
2) pen a written apology to Niche Films

KEITH CHONG
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
NICHE FILMS

Madcap Machinist said...

I am one of those people who would be instantly reminded of the fine Alex Proyas film when I hear of 'Dark City'.

But when I hear of a Malaysian TV series called 'Dark City' my other association would be of Xeus' book of short stories of the same name and theme.

That said, it makes no difference to me whether Xeus' stories are actually included in the series or not.

Niche could well have chosen a better title and avoided all this confusion. Marketing a title, after all, is a game of associations... and it's hard not to wonder if the producers thought they had anything to gain by 'filching' a local title that had been getting some press over the last few months. It seems counter-intuitive to choose to compete for mind-share using the same name. Legal or not, it seems like a dumb business decision to me.

Is this slanderous? No, these are questions, which Mdm. Bibs aired out as her opinion in her blog post, and which prompted some constructive responses...

...one of which is Xeus' which set the record straight...

... and for Mr. Keith Chong's, which while illuminating, brings me to the opinion that he is a pompous ass.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, there are people who have not and still do not know of the book.
We are film and TV, not books!
The title was thouht of before we were aware of
the book, But I am sure you literari
bloggers are not aware that there is another universe out there! Anyway again don't take my word for it.

---------------------------------------
XEUS BLOG FRIDAY 4TH APRIL

The working title of the series is 'Dark City', (sic)
------------------------------------------
However the pompous ass does agree with madcap machinist on 2 points:-

1) We would be flattered if we were associated with Alex Proyas Dark City. We are waiting anxiously for his supporters to start a blog to slag us.
2) Yes it is a dumb business decision. The added publicity only benefit Xeus as extra book sales means cash for Xeus, We are commisioned, it mean no extra money for us. Bur we are okay with that. If it is creating a larger creative community, great!

Enough said.

KEITH CHONG
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
NICHE FILMS

bibliobibuli said...

hi Keith,

thanks for clarifying matters.

i agree it's entirely possible that you hadn't heard of the book and its sequel, and perhaps hadn't come across any of her interviews/articles/ extracts in the national press and posters in bookshops where the book hit the best-seller list.

nevertheless, i am sure you can see why she was upset and i hope you talk to her directly about it and patch things up.

i really do recognise that you have given an important opportunity to many young screenwriters and wish you all the best.

hopefully we've all learned something from this experience.

Madcap Machinist said...

yes, 'tis a bitter pill to swallow for us literati that more people populate the film-and-tv universe, and in that world, many can't read fast enough to spell the titles of the books flying off the shelves...

2) Yes it is a dumb business decision. The added publicity only benefit Xeus as extra book sales means cash for Xeus, We are commisioned, it mean no extra money for us. Bur we are okay with that. If it is creating a larger creative community, great!

Why... you actually sound bitter about all this, but I'm warmed by your admission.

Here's a spanner in the works: Xeus has said in at least one occasion that "Niche Films did approach me. And they did mention that after seeing the title of my book, they thought it was a good idea to call the whole series Dark City." -- presumably this is how 'Dark City' became the working title.

Of course, to me this is just nit-picking, and my apologies if I'm beating on a dead horse, but I wonder if you'd have any comments on this, as this is contrary to what you have claimed.