Friday, October 10, 2008

ABC Sued by Japanese Producer for Ripping Off "Takeshi's Castle"

I'm a huge fan of Japanese culture. Akira Kurosawa is one of my favorite directors and one of the most important filmmakers, period. Japanese animation has had a enormous impact on shaping and influencing my own creative expression. I find it interesting that Japan absorbed many aspects of American culture and made them their own.

Now, Americans are apparently doing the same. In their zeal to impose even more glib versions of 'Reality Television' upon US audiences in the wake of the after-effects of the Hollywood writer's strike apparently ABC is now accused of gleaming it's creative concepts straight from the-often bizarre world of Japanese television.

Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano (pictured above left) played the "Count" in the original Japanese cult hit "Takeshi's Castle" - which ABC apparently ripped off to create "Wipeout".

James Hibbard wrote a nice piece on the subject on the Hollywood Reporter website on Monday, October 6th. Amongst the juicy details:

"From the moment ABC revealed 'Wipeout' to the public, that program has been routinely described as a 'rip-off' and 'knockoff' of Plaintiff's shows," reads the complaint, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. "ABC's willful and wrongful use of Plaintiff's shows to create 'Wipeout' is egregious, inexcusable and not to be tolerated."

"Wipeout" was created by Endemol USA, a production company that speacializes in non-scripted gameshows, reality TV-type productions. It's actually a sub-division of Endemol Holding, a Netherlands-based holding company that produces a variety of television content in 21 countries through various subsidiaries, partnerships joint ventures.

No doubt it's going to be a long day for the geniuses at ABC who decided a blatant, Americanized version of original game show concept developed years ago by the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

TBS also owns the Japanese News Network (JNN) and was the original creator of global television cult-hit TV show "Takeshi's Castle"; which aired from 1986 - 1989. The show featured a "Count" played by actor Takeshi Kitano (pictured above left)who set up strange obstacles for people to try and reach him inside his castle. For any cult fans reading this, Wikipedia provides a concise list of all the challenges; from the "Bite the Bun" to the "Indestruct-a-Ball".

It's really interesting how some of the totally outlandish Japanese game shows seem to go against the reserved nature that is often seen as characterizing Japanese culture and people.

How about the "Nut Buster Show"? Yes guys, it's exactly what you think it's about, with trepidation I offer a link to this painful-sounding game show.

One of the craziest things I ever saw on Japanese television was a show, or sequence of a show called "Man in the Street". A crew would carve out a hole in some street with just enough room for the man to fit into. They'd camouflage him so that it was nearly impossible for passersby to see him lying just below the level of the street carefully painted exactly like the street itself.

Then with the cameras rolling, he'd wait for some unassuming person to stroll by before leaping out of the hole with a scream - terrifying the unsuspecting victim. It was one of the funniest and most bizarre TV shows I've ever scene; unfortunately I couldn't find a link online. But I'll keep searching.

ABC should license THAT one legally and broadcast an updated American version - I'd watch it.

1 comment:

bla said...

MXC pwnz the hell out of Wipeout, and that guy from Talk Soup is barely funny at all. I hope TBS wins the lawsuit, atleast Spike TV went through legit means to obtain and dub over Takeshi's Castle.