Happier times: Henri and Clinton Went To White Castle
In case you haven't already heard, Fox pulled the theatrical rights to all of their television shows because they were unhappy with how the licensing had been done for the Once More With Feeling Musical screenings of the Buffy Sing-Along. The AP picked up stories about it and everything, which you can read a version of here, but the long and short of it is that for the foreseeable future, there will be no more Buffy Sing-Alongs at the Alamo or any other public place.
Here's an interview with Clinton McClung, a film programmer who used to work at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Boston and began taking the Buffy show on the road last year. Clinton started the whole Buffy Sing-Along phenomenon when he was at the Coolidge, and after he left Boston to pursue new opportunities in New York that was the one show he couldn't let go of. The two of us began talking about the different props and activities we'd each added to our versions of the show, and after collaborating on building up the best possible version of the show, last summer he asked me to come along with him to actually host on some of his touring gigs.
He traveled all over the country over the past year, bringing Buffy to the big cities like L.A. (where Joss himself came out to see it) as well as the small towns like Bangor, Maine (although I haven't heard confirmation or denial that Stephen King came out to a show there). I got to accompany him on his geeky-TV-fanboy-turned-rock-star lifestyle twice over the summer, once to Minneapolis where we took a day excursion to the Mall of America, and once to Seattle, where I got to hang out with my little brother and his friends from Digipen. Both of those trips were an absolute blast, partially just for the joy of traveling, and partially just because you guys here in Austin are spoiled now, aren't you? You're used to these shows, and you know that I'm going to describe every single Buffy show that you come out to as the "single greatest night of your life." But other cities? Other cities don't have Alamo Drafthouses, and so other audiences hadn't been able to attend events like this ever before. I love you guys bunches and bunches, but being able to share that excitement with scores of new people felt really special, and it's sad to think that there are people in St. Louis and other cities now who might not ever get a chance to experience singing along with Buffy and Tara and Giles.
But be that as it may, it's even sadder to think that those of us here in Austin might never be able to do it again, too. Sorry St. Louis, but home is where the heart is, and personally I like being able to drive a stake through the heart of evil's home whenever I can. Now you're saying we can't do that anymore just because the lawyers can't figure out who we should pay for the right to do it?
Because that's the thing that's really frustrating about this shutdown: Clinton was never trying to go behind anyone's back. As I understand it, he called the Fox booking agents and he talked to lawyers, and he was told that Criterion Pictures had the rights to book the Fox TV catalog. So he contacted Criterion, they said that they did in fact have the rights, and he paid them to rent those rights so we could continue doing shows. But apparently it turned out that there was some weird contractual stuff going on that he didn't know about, and maybe there were some loopholes that either were or were not being utilized correctly, and so Fox actually needed to retain the rights because they had people that had worked on the show that weren't getting all their residuals or something like that. Of course, no one wants the gaffers on Buffy to get paid as much as possible more than me and Clinton, so we're both just hoping that there can be some resolution to this dilemma as soon as possible.
In the meantime, Clinton's set up a petition at his website
for the touring show, and while I have no idea if it will actually help sway Fox to do what's necessary to let us acquire proper theatrical rights for their catalog of TV on DVD, at least it's a start. If we can get enough people to just ask Fox to tell us who to make our checks out to, maybe we can get past this silly little legal snafu and get Buffy out to the people once again. Then we'd all have something to sing about.
For the time being, however, all of our future planned Buffy events have been canceled. Here's hoping that after the writer's strike
some of these "new media" issues are settled and we can get things going again in the spring.Hush!