Fan Folly FeeBay Auction of 2007: ‘Salt On Our Skin’ German Press Kit Worth $510.01?!?!

Yikes!

Well some fangurl with a far greater limit on her credit card than amount of common sense just ‘won’ a German press kit on ebaY for $510.01 (that’s *before* shipping)!

I don’t follow feebay auctions all that religiously, but that’s got to be some kind of record. It surely breaks the $400+ ‘Guy’ press kit record I blogged about several months ago.

In my case, I got my first German ‘Salt On Our Skin’ press kit back in 2001 for what I though (then) was a hefty $25.00 including shipping. Of course mine came with the booklet (which I have yet to upload an image of because it won’t fit on my scanner, it’s the size of a vinyl record album or a laserdisc) 2 more black and white 5×7″ photos than what the high bidder will receive (6 vs. 4) plus 13 different slides (the winner is not getting any slides but at that stupidly high price, she should be getting everything I got hand-delivered to her by VDO himself).

My second copy of the same kit only has one photo and 2 slides and thus cost me $10.00. However that one has already been passed on to another owner who wisely wishes to remain anonymous.

Looks like VDO has become more popular and profitable than I would have predicted…boy if I had the email address of the winner I could *seriously* cash in (I do have other extra press materials etc acquired at less spectacular prices from many different countries that I put away for many reasons, just one of them being an educated guess that VDO’s popularity would soar thanks to LO:CI)

But I’ve at least scanned the photos so that if you’re not the auction ‘winner’ you don’t have to spend muy mucho $$$ to see them for yourself…they’re in my 100th flickr photo set at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vdo_vault/sets/72157600298064868/

One of the nicer ones this winner isn’t getting is:

Appropriate music ‘Deeper And Deeper’ by Madonna (as in the winner is putting herself ‘deeper and deeper’ in debt to a soul-stealing corporation)

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Stuff To Collect: It’s Richard Belzer’s Fault or How I Got Into An Expensive Collecting Habit

Mood music ‘Someone To Talk To’ by The Police

Well in between gathering articles to do some blog posts on the renewal of CI and it’s move to USA (and whether or not VDO will be back next season…given his Herculean effort to deal with the fangurl aria of a script that was the basis of the CI ‘Endgame’ (and briefly stated I think the CI writers should stop catering to fangurl tastes and getting their script ideas from fangurl forums, actually *watch* a LOT more old episodes of CI and then follow their own instincts in writing next season’s scripts), I’ve been doing some fun stuff like talking via email to other cool people with equally cool blogs, such as Carey Henderson’s Speakeasy(x)

This post from Carey entitled Does Any of This Even Make Sense? really struck me as clever and hillarious, especially this part:

“Every Sunday night, Bravo runs Law & Order: Criminal Intent all evening. If you’ve been around me long enough to know that I pretty much only wear black shirts, then you’ve been around me long enough to know that I am a Vincent D’Onofrio fan. Very much so.

He’s sort of a strange cat—private, prone to his principles and not given to jumping into any particular role unless it somehow gives him an opportunity to stretch his acting legs. When you’re pretty and Johnny Depp, Hollywood loves you for that. When you’re average-looking and not Johnny Depp, Hollywood looks at you sideways. So, unless you’re damned good at what you do (as D’Onofrio is), the roles are usually less than forthcoming.

Back to that in a moment.

Watching Bravo is like seeing the goings on of another species on another planet unfold. There are more bratty, strange, spoiled, eccentric, gay, grandstanding, flamboyant people on that network than at a Truman Capote reading by way of Elton John concert. I’d like to think that those particular personality traits don’t lump together and spell out any particular subset of society, yet Bravo seems intent on making folks like me who work for a living and generally have rather placid decorating and fashion sense believe that this is the case. A few times watching the network and the average straight man might begin to think that three or four times a week gay men gather on the couch, nab the razor shears and French architecture magazines and bitch for three hours about straight people and their lack of any sort of sense beyond the innate ability to make everything dull and misunderstand women.

I doubt this is true. But from watching Bravo, as the old Mighty Mighty Bosstones song stated, that’s the impression that I get.

At any rate, Dick Wolf has to be getting close to Aaron Spelling status, as far as the amount of television shows he currently has running that are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. To the unfamiliar eye, the Law & Order franchise must seem a lot like fast food burgers. There’s the original, SVU, CI and Trial by Jury. Most of the roles are filled by attractive people doing attractive things; some saying excellent lines (not all to the credit of the staff writers. Orbach ad-libbed some of the best lines on television during his best days on the original series). The subtleties of the shows are there, and after a few veiwings of each become clear. Yet, on the outset, it seems the format is too close to call.

There’s the familiar Law & Order gavel sound (CLANK-CLANK!), then the black screen,

[black screen with caption ‘Apartment of George Killeddead
South Bronx’]

and, apparently, every fourth apartment in any complex throughout the entirety of New York contains a dead body. The dumpsters contains sexual crimes victims once every other Thursday. If you do watch the shows with any regularity, then you also know a few things: Det. Eliot Stabler is always pissed, Capt. Cragen is going to get in Stabler’s face any second now, Jerry Orbach could deliver a sarcastic quip about the deceased’s religious misgivings at a Catholic funeral that would make the Pope chuckle and Det. Goren is going to solve the case; probably by applying a generous mixture of reverse psychology and library card prowess.

Despite all of the predictability of these shows (and you can nearly set your watch by it), there are subtleties that make almost every franchise worth watching. Trial by Jury isn’t much, but watching Fred Dalton Thompson drawl and stand his ground with unequivocally stereotyped Southern sayings (“Well, she wanted me to jump down, turn around, pick a bail of cotton”) is almost worth watching the show in and of itself. Almost.

To be honest, I watch Criminal Intent for similar reasons, that is to say: D’Onofrio. The writing for his partner, Eames, is rather dull, with the occasional one-liner to redeem her. I often wonder if she’s not written this way purposely to showcase Det. Goren. (Late in the series, sometime last year, Goren and Eames left the show, another set of detectives coming on. They resurrected Detective Mike Logan, played by Chris Noth. Not a particularly exciting move. The series took on the dull luster of flat latex sprayed atop Kilz.)

Goren is always thinking, always plotting the next move. For him, the entire hunt for the criminal is a mind game, his impressive memory and library card his weapons. I love the character, with his quirks and moods, though I always am brought back to the realization that no one is that informed in that many areas.”

Well Carey and I have been emailing each other back and forth, and in between the emails, I have been reading his blog and laughing out loud at the humor in his posts, nodding along when I read his dead on the money observations about life. He’s blessed with a far better sense of humor than mine and brevity. And his writing’s good, damned good if you ask me. Plus the dude has a lizard named after Peter Frampton (which appeals to me as my own 2 cats are named for a couple of musicians as well) and he writes and plays his own music on the guitar (there’s some great tunage at his site you should give a listen to). Oh and did I mention his photography…he can take a mean picture when the spirit moves him or his witty and insightful horror film reviews?

Anyhoo our email exchange has been fast, friendly and furious and he was more than kind enough to link to the blog here so I figured I’d give him a plug in this post as well. He’s a VDO fan I can easily talk to, maybe because he’s got so many interests besides VDO.

So today’s lazy Sunday afternoon post is dedicated to Carey and also lets me get into a topic on how I went from the small time to the big time of collecting…all apologies to him if this post isn’t as fun and interesting and well-written as I hope Carey (and others) will find it.

Carey writes in a post entitled Law and Order and Whatnot

“In the end, I’m fairly afraid that Goren might be gone from television. Oh, perhaps they’ll keep him in the back of their minds, maybe resurrect the character three years from now on the next installment of whatever Dick Wolf manages to come up with in order to bring the franchise back to life. Or maybe Homicide: Life On the Street will come back and Goren will bug the hell out of Munch as his partner. One can only hope not.

And I don’t know if D’Onofrio would even show up for that.”

Oh goody…now that Carey’s brought up Homicide: Life On The Street and Detective John Munch that leads me right into the discussion of this object with which I am obsessed, known simply as ‘The Chair’:

Sometime back in April of 2001, well before Law & Order Criminal Intent began airing I found the bedraggled looking item above listed on FeeBay. The picture of it was far grainer than mine and frankly by that time most people didn’t give a flaming one about H:LOTS anymore. But I was intrigued by this description:

“Here is Richard Belzer’s chair from the entire time he was on Homicide Life on the Street. He sat in his chair more than any other actor…drinking room temp water….reading the Post….. NOW YOU CAN !!! You’ll never be as funny but now you can sit in the same Telescope, highboy (36″ to seat) solid dark wood, director’s chair and read 6 newspapers every morning just like MUNCH did… Munch, John: (Richard Belzer) [Regular: 1-7] Witty, sardonic detective. Divorced three times (and a fourth time after Homicide’s last episode.) Grew up in Pikesville, where he was in love with his neighbor Helen Rosenthal. Graduated around 1961, making him about 54 at the start of season six. Why did [I] drag this chair on the streets of Baltimore eveyday for 6 years? I was the Prop Master on Homicide for six years (91 episodes) and will send a ***NEW IMPROVED***CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY. Want other rare, one of a kind film, movie, and TV props go to IMDB and look at my resume… We have a web [site] coming soon! GOOD LUCK!!”

Okay so there’s a good reason this chair was in rough shape…it was used (and abused) in the making of seven great years of TV. It had a low opening bid (you couldn’t have bought a new highboy style director’s chair for what it was initially listed for) and it was being sold by the show’s prop master (who clearly wasn’t a master photographer) on his own initiative . But it sure was intriguing…

So I put in a bid in that was in line with the cost of a new highboy-styled directors chair plus maybe a hundred dollar premium for the chair’s ‘history’. And little did I know that I would win the beast (my first time spending three figures in front of the decimal place for an item of entertainment memorabilia), nor was its ‘premium’ as a bit of entertainment memorabilia all that large. Despite some very fuzzy pictures, my instincts told me I had gotten a great bargain and a unique item.

In the process of figuring out how to get The Chair shipped to me, the prop master and I struck up quite a pleasant conversation of how (at that time) things were humming along very nicely on ebaY and how the great Homicide sale of 2000 in Baltimore (when H:LOTS wrapped production, most of the items used in the making of the show were sold in an open to the public sale held in Baltimore on the show’s Fells Point sets) had proceeded and what had been sold there. He graciously offered to send along many extra materials including a prop business card for Detective Munch to me to further verify The Chair’s authenticity.

When The Chair arrived in it’s cleverly homemade box (skillfully fashioned out of several of the post office’s free smaller Priority Mail cartons and their free Priority Mail tape) I was beside myself with elation. Sure The Chair’s frame has a broken hinge, a missing castor, scratches, dings and dents in its wood frame, a fabric seat bottom whose stitches are loosening, a slightly schmutzy seat back…but for heaven’s sake it is 100% the real deal. Over seven years, Da Belz *actually* sat in it, learned lines in it, joked with the cast and crew from it. It was a holy relic of TV production if you happened to be into good if culty and obscure TV shows. And it was mine. M-I-N-E mine.

In talking to other H:LOTS fans online, I was able to locate more material to authenticate The Chair including these 2 pictures:

Two of my favorite people and one of my favorite objects: Richard Belzer seated in ‘The Chair’ next to Homicide:Life On The Street writer extraordinaire Jim ‘Yosh’ Yoshimura (who apparently is sitting in someone else’s chair) somewhere on location in Baltimore.

Richard Belzer seated in ‘The Chair’ next to Callie Thorne somewhere on location in Baltimore.

Then not even 2 weeks after the conclusion of the auction for ‘The Chair’ something happened on ebaY which made me forever believe the online auction site had ‘jumped the shark’ and was on the road to becoming FeeBay, a place hostile to small sellers with authentic items and the collectors looking for the ‘real deal’.

Behold ‘The Anti-Chair’ (and feel free to boo and hiss)

Here is a brand new lowboy director’s chair that has the Law & Order Special Victims Unit name on its seat back and the signatures of Richard Belzer, Dann Florek, Mariska Hargitay, Michelle Hurd, Ice-T, Stephanie March and Christopher Meloni. This chair was auctioned off on behalf of the Today Show and some charity trying to cure colorectal cancer but as a bit of entertainment memorabilia it is an attractively fabricated and photographed fraud.

You see while you might get seven actor’s autographs on a nice new chair, what you don’t get is the sense that this chair ever had any more contact with any of them including Richard Belzer than the amount of time it took for each of them to sign a piece of fabric with a silver Sharpie/fabric pen and then go on about their main business of acting. And other than the signing period, I doubt the entire Anti Chair ever saw the inside of an SVU set or any outdoor SVU shooting location…for one thing that low frame makes it impractical for use on a set.

Seeing this chair with no history sell for more than twice what I paid for The Chair made me extremely glad I got my chair but sad that the buyer of The Anti Chair basically bought themselves a fake. Oh sure some worthy charity got more than $500 (I’m assuming that 100% of the sale price of the chair actually went to the charity, but these days you never know), but frankly that winner would have been better off just writing out the check to the charity and going to the NBC store to buy some cheaper SVU themed thing. Sure The Anti Chair was all over TV on the Today program for a week or two, but did its winner get to know someone on the crew who was willing to swap stories about his experiences in making great TV for what little I knew then about how people buy and sell on ebaY, much less make a friend who sent along some nice extras? That’s doubtful.

Yes the biggest problem I have with FeeBay today is its willingness to jump through the hoops that Corporate America places before it in order to gain the mega-powerful’s business and it’s soulless, utterly devoid of character merchandise and all at the expense of the smaller ‘just folks’ sellers with interesting things to sell and smaller but more fascinating stories.

Sure I occasionally browse FeeBay (it’s perpetually screwed up search engine makes that an extremely frustrating experience). And on a rare occasion I find a truly unique item worthy of being fought for, won and added to a collection. But mostly today it’s a poorly run crapfest that dupes those who don’t know any better into overpaying for fakes. And that’s depressing given how personal and fun it used to be before the shareholders became more important that the users. I am sad to report that the big thrills to be had at ebaY are mostly gone.

But for entertainment I can always go sit in The Chair and read a book or just cogitate on what it was like to make ‘the best damned show on TV’. I’m so glad that VDO got to be a part of that legacy (even if it was only one guest appearance).

Oh and you can blame Belzer for my expensive collecting tastes…there *really* is nothing like owning a production used item.

Richard Belzer Head Shot

Oh Happy Day! Film Butchers Rye By Post Are In Receivership

Well I just got this bit of *excellent* news from one of the many collector/preservationist discussion boards I hang out at.

Apparently some aspects of the made-up movie and TV memorabilia business are not as profitable as they are cracked up to be…the UK’s Rye By Post which takes *reprint* photos and *butchered* bits of film which they call ‘filmcells’, a couple of metal plaques and some glassed in picture frames and matting and make the whole lot up into ‘movie memorabilia’ to sell at grossly inflated prices is *bankrupt* and has been taken over by receivers as of today!

Hallelujah! Amen…overpriced home-made collectibles aren’t worth what Rye By Post thought they were and the market has voted with its complete and utter apathy! I *love* it!

The spin Rye By Post puts on this in an ebaY ‘guide’ (and these guides are supposed to help collectors not serve as press releases or crappy advertising so no way am I reproducing their link for you, they don’t deserve the free recommendation) is absolutely priceless (the typos and misspellings are all theirs):

“Ryebypost is in administration !

Ryeby post makers of filmcells also known as film cells cels cells or film media are now out of business, this is a huge shock to the memorabillia world. Ryebypost ceased trading on the 07 05 07 when the admistrators were called in to sort the companies finance. Ryebypost held licences to produce film cells like spiderman 3 the wizard of oz and Scarface, many of the orders placed by distributors have not been fulfilled.

We have many items still in stock but these are now HIGHLY COLLECTABLE as they will NEVER BE REMADE.

There are literally thousands of website advertisements for items that will simply not be delivered, many companies now have to go through databases to remove the much saught after stock.”

This is great news for those of us who collect originals…I will be glad to see them stop reprinting photos and butchering up classic movies (‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Ed Wood’, ‘Men In Black’ and ‘The Cell’ are the only VDO movies of which I am aware have received this treatment, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of others being cut up in the name of commerce). It makes me want to strangle the idiots who think nothing of cutting up perfectly good prints of my favorite films like ‘Chariots Of Fire’ or ‘Blade Runner’ or even silent films like Lon Chaney’s ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ just to make a buck. People who prostitute my and millions of other people’s happy moviegoing memories in this fashion deserve a lot worse than to lose all their money.

Oh and I’ll bet that a lot of their music and sports memorabilia is bogus too…won’t it be fun when this crapfest of faux collectibles hits FeeBay at low low prices?

Not.

(Music: ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You’ The Alan Parsons Project)

Full Metal Rant: Now that ‘ full of “it” ‘ ebaY’s been hacked by vladuz, what can I do to protect myself?

I spent my weekend (including my 38th birthday yesterday) learning about a story that ebaY and PayPal would rather you not have a clue about.

Too bad for them that I’m going to spill the beans so you can protect yourself from a security compromise the impact of which is too huge to get your mind around.

The bottom line?

ebaY has been hacked. Big time. Multiple breaches even. And your ebaY accounts, your PayPal accounts, and all of the financial information attached to them could be seriously compromised.

Most Americans are unaware of what has happened as most of the auctions affected were run by non-US sellers but somewhere around December of 2006 it became clear that certain nefarious people (generally outside of the USA) were able to take over innocent people’s accounts (a TKO in ebaY speak), run all kinds of scamming and infringing listings, divert funds from the sellers PayPal accounts, stiffing both buyers and sellers and generally cause a lot of grief and harm for these innocent sellers and their unsuspecting bidders.

ebaY wants you to believe that this was a couple of isolated, minimally damaging incidents, that they’re all in the past and that sellers and bidders are either too careless in how they come up with their passwords or that they are too trusting and will easily allow themselves to tricked into clicking on a link in an unsolicited email and thereby duped into giving sellers their names and passwords.

To spin one of their slogans: ebaY is full of “it”

Over the past few days a Romanian hacker calling himself (or herself) “vladuz” has posted screenshots of a few pages from ebaY’s internal databases…one showed a taken over seller’s account history and the more sinister one showed ebaY employee names, email addresses, and passwords.

Take a look at http://www.auctionguild.com/generic148.html and feel free to shudder. I know I did when I saw what was there.

I am certainly not very knowledgeable about executing hacks and cracks but I can sure tell you this…what vladuz showed off, you can’t get access to via mere carelessness with an ordinary user’s email address and password or clicking in email links. Possibly if you did act so ‘carelessly’ with an ebaY.com account, you could have let someone into the ebaY system, but until vladuz surfaced, presumably you had to be an ebaY employee to have an ebaY.com email address and access to their databases, servers and the information of millions of registered users around the world. And presumably ebaY employees were taught by ebaY not to be so careless with an ebaY.com account…but I digress..

As of yet no one is really sure what all vladuz has access to…over the past several hours, ebaY users (especially those in the UK and Germany) have seen vladuz take over other people’s auctions (and as proof vladuz includes either ‘zudlav’ or ‘vladuz’ in the auction listing text), compromise two existing ebaY employee accounts and post using their ids to ebaY discussion boards (which are often called ‘pink’ accounts or ‘pinks’ or ‘pinkliners’ for the pink header line that is automatically attached to an ebaY.com account’s posting to an ebaY discussion board), and even *create* his or her very own pink account (vladuzsgi).

So what the heck has ebaY been doing about this?

Well besides pulling hijacked auctions as fast as they can find them and essentially chasing their own tails because new auctions are constantly and repeatedly taken over, ebaY has been actively doing everything it can to KILL THIS STORY. Those in charge at ebaY have not only been deleting vladuz’s discussion posts on ebaY discussion boards, they delete any postings mentioning the name ‘vladuz’ by other ebaY users, they delete postings with the word ‘hacked’ in them, and they suspend users who keep discussing the same from being able to post to the ebaY discussion boards.

While I find this a somewhat questionable use of their time money and resources (while they chase discussion board posters away, vladuz keeps popping up to show off what else he/she has access to and can exploit) ebaY at least has some justification for trying to gag their own users on their own site.

However as of yesterday ebaY went too far.

ebaY is attempting to supress the information of which an increasing number of its users are already aware…that the implications of these hacking incidents are that a large quantity of sensitive information (financial and otherwise) are at extreme risk and that the problem is so huge that ebaY has to come clean with the whole wide world.

Instead the powers behind ebaY are intimidating both ordinary registered users and those who are online authorities who cover online auction related news. In particular the treatment of the people behind The Auction Guild is especially suspicious: TAG’s legitimate questions about vladuz and the purported security of ebaY and PayPal were fobbed off onto an inexperienced ebaY PR spokesperson

http://www.auctionguild.com/generic149.html

and now for some strange reason if you visit TAG’s site using an the Opera browser, their site is on a list of ‘suspected fradulent sites’

http://www.auctionguild.com/generic150.html

The fact that according to the article above ebaY’s legal team is attempting to intimidate vladuz’s web host (who is in Germany) into following US tradmark law and the DMCA to stop a purportedly Romanian hacker (who could be anywhere in the world right now) not withstanding, all signs point to the fact that whoever is running ebaY has officially lost their collective mind.

Strongarming internet users and journalists into silence isn’t going to solve the problem…coming clean with users (which if PayPal has been compromised may be *required* under California state law at least as far as ebaY users registered in California are concerned and it would not be hard for the powers that be in Sacramento to get jurisdiction over the company up the road in San Jose or the company they own a few states over in Omaha) and taking the business of online security more seriously is the ONLY VIABLE WAY out of this morass.

My more knowledgable friends say that solving ebaY’s security holes may not be possible given how cobbled together the whole architecture of the ebaY-PayPal system is. I don’t know if that is true but it is time to address the most important question:

If I’m an ebaY and/or a PayPal user, what do I do to protect myself?

First, from now on watch your ebaY and PayPal accounts and the bank and credit card accounts attached to them *like a hawk*. If you see something suspicious, notify the appropriate parties immediately.

If you have largely inactive or abandoned ebaY or PayPal accounts you should close them *immediately*. Keep your balances in your still used PayPal account(s) low and transfer money out of them (preferably and ultimately to a more secure bank account not attached to a PayPal account) often.

In terms of bidding on ebaY auctions that require payment by *PayPal only*, consider setting up a PayPal account for payment whose only source for funding is one of the preloaded fixed limit credit cards you can purchase at your local bank/shopping mall/grocery store…the fees for these run from $2-$10 but the peace of mind they could provide may be worth that many times over. Such card numbers can also be attached to a throwaway free email account if you further want to protect your privacy and minimize spam and phishing emails.

In terms of accepting money via some kind of third party online payment system, you might consider signing up for Google Payments, but if you are selling items on ebaY, be aware that ebaY cancels ebaY auction listings that state that they accept Google Payments (talk about being anti-competitive and monopolistic).

I really don’t have a good solution for ebaY sellers short of just not offering PayPal payment as an option…they may be forced to go back to money orders and possible personal or business checks and get merchant accounts for credit card processing for payment, but better safe and a little slower and possibly more expensive than fast cheap and sorry.

It also goes without saying that you should *never* send wire transfers (Western Union, MoneyGram, etc) to pay for anything you buy online…once the money is wired it is G-O-N-E forever.

Finally tell your friends and family who use ebaY or PayPal know what is happening there and discuss ideas for protecting yourselves when you bid or buy online with them.

Anyhow here are some story links to get you started educating yourself on this situation (it’s too bad I have to do what ebaY should be doing):
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/23/vladuz_strikes_again/
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/20/ebay_conspiracy

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y07/m02/i22/s03/:
http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y07/m02/i23/s01/

Typical screen captured ebaY discussions are available at:
p://www.ebaymotorssucks.com/
http://firemeg.blogspot.com/

Groups discussing this issue off of ebaY and in their own forums are at
http://www.pheebay.com/
http://www.powersellersunite.com/

Oh and for the powers that be at ebaY/PayPal who might want to have their legal teams send me harassing letters, etc…it might behoove you to know that I happen to be a licensed attorney (my bar card is from Texas) and I can figure out what all my rights and legal protections are….enough said.

Full Metal Rant: Add One More To The ebaY Dishonor Roll

I can believe that the following incident happened, I simply cannot believe that the following happened so *fast*.

VDO’s sister Elizabeth (henceforth EDO to save bandwidth) gives acting workshops in various places (mostly in the USA) from time to time. One of these is based on her techniques for handling cold readings for auditions (for non-actors this means that the actor or actress has not been given time to study the script being used in the audition, they just have to go ahead and read plus perform the material unprepared or ‘cold’).

One particular workshop EDO gave happened to have taken place in New York City, and VDO happened to show up with some of his students. Someone (I’m presuming EDO) had the foresight to film this class, EDO had DVDs of this workshop made and EDO is selling this DVD via her website.

The real *authorized* DVD can be purchased here (for $25 including shipping if you are in the USA):
Cold Reading Techniques for Audition Workshop

Note that these DVDs are really more useful to people who are studying acting than to casual VDO fans. In fact EDO had to go through all kinds of crazy security precautions to screen out VDO’s disruptive fangurls and make sure only legitimate acting students were admitted to the workshop. That’s bad enough for EDO and for people who are just trying to study acting with her.

Now some cretin has made a bootlegged VHS of this workshop DVD and listed the very first fake copy on ebaY (listing #250002430604 which has already sold. For $60. Before shipping.).

Granted this lowlife at least threw in a copy of the UK gossip magazine Hello! from 1995 that contains a dubious article describing the breakup of VDO’s marriage to Greta Scacchi. I doubt that the issue of Hello! is an unauthorized photocopy. But it’s clear to me that the seller wanted to make as much as possible on a bootlegged VHS tape (and probably also overpaid for their copy of the Hello! tabloid).

Words cannot describe how completely disgusted I am by this. But I’m going for it anyway…

I am sure that VDO came to EDO’s workshop in part to support his sister in her teaching venture and in part to work with his own acting students. It is not in VDO’s power to control some of his more disturbed ‘fans’ anymore than he could control being related to EDO. So should VDO happen to read this, I am sorry that too many of his ‘fans’ are so clearly unworthy and meddlesome.

To EDO’s credit, she is an actress in her own right. Granted her acting resume doesn’t boast as many big credits as her brother’s but that could have a lot to do with 1) her life priorities — she did curtail her career for family reasons 2) her gender (and the fact that big Hollywood is hellaciously hard on women, especially as they age, more often than not denying them roles in front of and behind the cameras) and 3) VDO’s luck relative to EDO’s (there is a lot of luck to getting big fame-creating parts regardless of one’s gender age and talent).

Moreover EDO is doing something positive with her abilities — she’s out there trying to teach her craft to others. She’s putting in the effort of organizing classes, trying to spread the gospel of giving good performances (and we all know what she’s up against when Paris Hilton can keep getting her TV series renewed). EDO’s likely not making a living at pursuing her calling (and even her brother is in limited company — something like 3% of all US actors make $30,000 or more a year at their craft while the other 97% have to find other sources of support). But at least she’s putting in her own efforts.

I’m sure this seller thinks of herself (or himself) as one of VDO’s *real* fans. I’m sure this ‘fan’ also thinks she/he’s being extremely clever by getting someone else to pay for her/his DVD (a mere $25) by committing an act of copyright infringement.

I wonder how she/he would justify this to VDO (or for that matter to EDO) in a face to face meeting? “Hey although on the one hand it looks like I’m ripping off your family, it took some real effort for me to hook the DVD player up to the VCR and besides I threw in a legitimate copy of a trashy tabloid that probably includes lies, half-truths, and other nonsense that serves no purpose but to cause more pain to your family”.

Does that sound like a winner to you?!?! I didn’t think so.

I have railed against bootlegs (and trashy tabloids) before. But this one is especially low because it’s not ripping off some huge nasty nameless faceless multi-national corporation which can do unto others before they do unto it. This ripped off one of the underdogs, someone who is more like the rest of us nameless faceless folks than this cerebrally-challenged ‘fan’ gets. While I might call a corporation crass, this seller is just plain odious and should be forced to work the drive through at McDonalds for every lunch rush for the rest of her/his life for *zero* pay.

Thanks to her/his selfishness, someone who wants to study EDO’s acting techniques but can’t get to a workshop may have to do without a DVD for a while (and *nothing* gets me riled like a person interfering with another person’s education, be it formal or informal), not to mention how much hassle this type of thinking and behavior causes the workshops and classes yet to come.

Finally we get to me the collector who hates having my time taken up when I bother to go to ebaY to look for things to collect and see brain-dead crapfest listings like these instead of worthwhile legitimate things to add to my collection. And worse, if and when the ‘winner’ of this auction reads this rant and contacts me, I get the unpleasant task of comforting her/him and trying to reassure her/him that all ebaY sellers aren’t as low as this one (although it’s looking like they’re racing towards the bottom as fast as they can).

So for now I’ve said my piece. To all the injured parties you have far more of my sympathy than this seller has of my contempt.

ebaY Follies: The Sale Of Mancow Mueller’s ‘Stuff’

Can someone out there explain these ebaY live / Leslie Hindman auction results to me?!?!

Lot 236: Orson Welles Vest from ‘Jane Eyre’ & Signed Orson Welles Photograph $400.00

Lot 154: Prop Marine Helmet from ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Signed By R. Lee Ermey $600.00

I know that Mancow (he’s a crass US radio DJ for those who have never heard of him) got the ‘Jane Eyre’ vest from the Planet Hollywood costume & prop sale of a few years ago. The FMJ (‘Full Metal Jacket’) helmet looks hinky to me though because it was signed with metallic silver Sharpie pen, a type of pen that came into vogue in the 1990s for autograph hunters after FMJ got made in 1987. Not that I think the Lee Ermey autograph’s a fake, but I think the helmet’s possibly not real, or wasn’t used in the shooting of FMJ.

For the record, I didn’t bid on either of those two lots (I definitely didn’t like the idea of a 22.5% buyers premium). I think the Welles piece was a reasonable deal though.

Anyway, Mancow sure had a lot of iffy-looking ‘collectibles’, especially the music-related pieces. It’s interesting to note that a guitar signed by the band Creed only gets a $100 premium if it belonged to Mancow. A few years back a company I worked for sold a similarly Creed signed guitar (they were handed out to key radio DJs across the USA to get the DJs to promote Creed’s albums – same model but in black instead of white – and Creed’s lead singer emailed us after the auction to authenticate that he had signed the guitar we sold but no one in Creed ever played it plus both are pretty cheaply made modern Fenders), and I’m not all that surprised to see that something of that caliber has not escalated very much in value.

I spotted a lot of suspicious looking rock & roll memorabilia in this auction. A lot of Mancow’s signed photos were recent reprints that presumably some of the actual actors/musicians/celebs signed. And a lot of stuff only has value if you can prove Mancow owned it (comic books, toys, hardback books) to the next person considering acquiring it.

Towards the ‘bottom end’ of the auction results, there is a lot of stuff that only someone with ‘different’ taste could love.

I don’t know why Leslie Hindman bothered…maybe Heritage Galleries turned Mancow’s consignments down?

More ebaY Follies: This Seller’s Heart Is In The Right Place But…

Appropriate music ‘Damned If I Do’ by The Alan Parsons Project

He/she/it may get booted from FeeBay anyway for this kind of listing because it doesn’t follow the ‘informational product listing’ rules and policies of ebaY. This could also be auction interference (anybody selling a script or autograph on ebaY can claim this listing is hurting their sales). What ebaY might also suggest to this ‘seller’ is that he/she/it register with ebaY’s VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) program so that anytime ‘legalalliance’ sees someone whose copyright, trademark or California state rights of publicity have been violated **AND** this ebaY ‘user’ LEGALLY REPRESENTS that rights owner, as a VeRO registered user, ‘legalalliance’ can have the infringing auction listing(s) ended.

Here’s the listing [and my comments are in the usual brackets []]
ebaY 4839802548

Free: How to SPOT: ILLEGAL Script or Autograph FORGERY
24, NYPD BLUE, CSI, LAW & ORDER, GREY’S ANATOMY, ALIAS Item number: 4839802548

Item location: Fremont, CA United States
Seller: legalalliance ( 1 )

Description
How to SPOT an ILLEGAL Script or FORGERY on EBAY

Most Dealers advertisting “COPIES” or “REPRINTS” are selling bootleg illegal copies of copyrighted items. BE CAREFUL of this SCAM because many are also associated with illegal FORGERIES!

This auction is for a printed or email version of the following information: [here’s where ‘legalalliance’ gets into trouble with FeeBay because no one is going to pay for what he/she gets for free in its entirety just by reading the rest of this listing]

How to spot a forgery on Ebay and frequently asked question on what to do if you have been the victim of a forgery scam. Near the bottom you will find the studio and celebrity contact information to report forgery crimes.

The police, FBI and Professional Autographed Dealers Association estimates that 90-98% of the A-list Hollywood Celebrity autographs on Ebay are FORGERIES or are in some way counterfeit. There is now a firestorm of 20,000-30,000 forgeries, counterfeits and illegal copyrighted items being sold every few weeks! It has become a multimillion dollar business. [I can believe this]

How to spot a forgery on Ebay: If you are buying on Ebay you are probably buying a forgery so WATCH OUT.

Beware of Ebay Dealers with a GOOD feedback rating. That’s right a GOOD feedback rating! The FBI warns that most forgery dealers have good feedback ratings often in the thousands. Just because a dealer shows a good feedback rating does NOT mean the item is authentic, all it means is the dealer has sent out an item in a timely manner. Forgers are very manipulative and will use good “customer service” to mask the fact they are selling forgeries. [This is also true of ‘good sellers’ of legitimate memorabilia too though…it is probably better to try to distinguish bootleggers from authentic sellers by WHAT KIND OF THINGS they sell]

Beware of Dealers with a lot of inventory. Celebrities sign a very limited number of items every year. Dealers who claim to have dozens or even hundreds of items from the same celebrity or film production are most likely selling forgeries. Forgery Dealers are very clever so watch out. [This is a good rule of thumb…if it keeps showing up every week and it’s VDO related, the likelihood that it is a copy is high]

Beware of dealers selling items like scripts or photos that are REPRINTS or COPIES. First, many of theses items are copies of forgeries and second, most of the items are ILLEGAL copies of copyrighted motion picture and television photos and scripts. If you buy one of these items, it is just like buying a bootleg copy of a movie, it’s illegal and you could be held liable so stay away from these dealers. If you want to buy an authorized script copy contact the studio to purchase an authentic copy (not an illegal one).

[Also a good rule of thumb…if the underlying item itself easy to copy (you can pretty easily photocopy a script yourself or use your computer to duplicate photographs or put sayings and pictures on say a T shirt or a mouse pad — movie posters are a little more expensive to make copies of due to their size, but if they’re popular and lucrative, they can and will be copied), the likelihood that it is in fact a copy and a not authentic unauthorized copy is high, especially if it appears to have sold several times and keeps showing up in new listings.]

[The part about being liable yourself for ignorantly or knowingly buying a fake is questionable because even though they can sue you, what sensible business-minded rightsholder is going to sue you and then turn around and try to get you to give them money for a legitimate item? Remember The Vault’s cardinal rule and keep repeating it until you’ve not only memorized it, but if you’re a rightsholder you FOLLOW it: ‘Smart businesspeople don’t sue potential customers’.]

[As for the idea of contacting a studio to buy an authentic copy of a script or a photo, well good luck with that because if they respond at all (assuming you can find the right people to talk to), the answer is likely to be “sorry, no we don’t sell those”]

WATCH OUT for Listing Tricks: Watch out for listing tricks that sellers use to get out of legal responsibility for selling you a forgery. If an item says “Autographed Photo of Angelina Jolie” They are not claiming the item is SIGNED BY Angelina, they are only claiming that somebody signed it.

[Cute trick huh? Anyone including The Vault could do this to VDO items, but The Vault 1) would be horrified at the idea of anyone defiling an authentic item of memorabilia with a signature (possibly even the actual person depicted in the item) and 2) The Vault is too busy hunting authentic items to start up a sideline in copymaking and faux signatures. So here’s more reasons why signatures can be suspect.]

Watch out for fuzzy photos and unclear signatures: There are problems with both clear and fuzzy photos. A clever forger may show a picture of an authentic autograph and sell you a false one. Other dealers buy directly from forgers who come close enough to the real signature that they proudly display the forgery with a crystal clear photo. But a dealer who won’t even show a clear photo or clear signature is definitely suspect and probably avoided.

[One FeeBay seller The Vault knows of *NEVER* lists a picture of the *ACTUAL* item to be sold partially out of laziness (it takes time and effort to get digital photographs made and uploaded into a FeeBay listing) and partially out of fear of being caught at photocopying items and making up fake signatures)…the ‘actual’ excuse given by the seller is always ‘my stock is in such constant flux so I don’t take pictures but hey, trust me, the item is authentic…’]

Watch out for TRICK Certificates of Authenticity: COA’s can be printed on any paper by anyone unless the COA specifically holds legal claims that the item is real and the person takes legal responsibility if it is otherwise the COA is just a trick and false sense of security. Insist that a COA has a live signature and the person claiming legal responsibility’s name is printed clearly under the signature. Make sure the COA states that the item is a legal original autograph signed BY the celebrity in question and that further the photo and/or script the signature is printed on is authorized by copyright and trademark laws and by the owner of the trademark.

[A better approach if you collect in this area is to get a ‘lifetime guarantee’ from the seller that if at any time the item or the signatures are proven by an authentications expert OF YOUR CHOICE (for example: I would insist on an entertainment memorabilia expert to authenticate VDO’s signature, not a sports memorabilia expert suggested by the seller, even if the sports expert is certified and belongs to professional societies like PSA/DNA, etc) to be suspect, the seller will take back the item AT ANY TIME and refund your purchase price so long as the item is kept in substantially the same condition.]

Don’t buy from dealers who will NOT allow you to authenticate the item before you send the money: Make sure the seller has a notice in their listing that allows winning bidders to authenticate the item before the buyer send payment. A seller who does not offer this service is probably trying to trick you into buying the item. A money back guarantee is not enough because a forger will make off with your money.

[This authentication of course has to be checked out BEFORE you bid or you risk violating FeeBay’s rules and losing your account. Since there is such a time pressure aspect to FeeBay auction and since a buyer-scammer could swap an authentic item for a fake (or damage the authentic item) and return the fake or damaged item to the seller with a notice that he/she/it is not going to pay, this suggestion is going to prove unworkable]

Google Ebay Seller forgery lists: Consumer Advocates have set up lists of Ebay sellers who are thought to be selling forgeries. Check out the lists and make sure you aren’t buying from one. X-LIST etc..

[Nice idea but impractical. Userids of problem sellers at FeeBay change all the time and no forgery list can stay current without a lot of effort and a lot of purchasing fakes from ‘new’ sellers.]

IF YOU MUST BUY AN AUTOGRAPH ON EBAY:

FIND A LEGITIMATE AND PROFESSIONAL DEALER: If you must have an autograph, consider buying only from authentic autograph dealers who are governed by strict association such as the Professional Autograph Dealers Association. Many of these dealers sell on Ebay and they are actual professionals trained to identify authentic signatures. [Even PADA and UACC members get swayed to the Dark Side so you could be the one buying an ‘authentic signature’ from a soon to be disgraced and expelled PADA or UACC member and be clueless about the transaction until after the money has changed hands. Beware here]

HAVE THE ITEM AUTHENTICATED BEFORE YOU BUY: Bid only on items that allow you to authenticate the item before you make payment. If they will not let you authenticate the item, they may be trying to trick you into buying or bidding on a forgery. Ebay rules favor the SELLER even when the seller is trying to peddle a forgery. If you bid on an item and find out it is a forgery, EBAY and the Seller may try to force to you to buy the forgery anyway because you bid so watch out and buy only from sellers who allow you to authenticate the item first and cancel the sale if it is not authentic. [As The Vault discussed above, good luck with this]

GET A LEGALLY BINDING CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY: Make sure the dealer provides an original Certificate of Authenticity (COA) claiming the item is an authentic original autograph signed by the actual celebrity and that the photo or script is an authorized copyright. Make sure the COA also contains a real signature of someone willing to take legal responsibility and their name is clearly printed under their signature. The COA should also contain the name, address and phone number of the COA issuer. [Get the real world contact information of the seller (i.e. name, postal address, phone number, etc) and a ‘lifetime guarantee’ in writing with a legally binding signature etc instead]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Stewart, Meg Ryan, JK Rowling Wes Craven and many other celebrities are telling their fans and the general public NOT to buy anything on Ebay claiming to have their autograph because it is highly unlikely the items are authentic and Ebay currently does not have any system in place to prevent forgeries from being listed. [It is true that FeeBay does not have such a system, mostly because FeeBay doesn’t want to have any legal liability should that system fail and a defrauded collector choose to sue]

WHAT DO I DO IF I PURCHASED A FORGERY OR ILLEGAL COPYRIGHTED ITEM?

It can be very frustrating to find out that you have been scammed and to watch the scammers continue to make money off other victims but taking the following steps WILL help stop forgeries so take heart your voice will make a difference and there is a chance you can get your money back. If you can take all the following steps:

1) Immediately contact the police and file a report. Your local police department is required to take the report and they will be forwarded to the district of the seller. DO NOT let the police department tell you only to report it to EBay because Ebay does not have the authority to press criminal charges. If criminal charges are brought the seller may be required to pay restitution and refund all the victims money. A criminal court order can NOT be bankrupted so it is a legal judgment that the convicted criminal is required to pay. [Not so effective…but if you’re really mad, go for it]

2) After filing a police report then report the incident to Ebay’s Fraud Department and submit the police report number. [Also not so effective unless the claim is for a lot of money or there are a lot of similar claims…but if you’re really mad, go for it]

3) Leave negative feedback on the seller to warn other buyers. [Possibly the least effective suggestion made…it’s better to file an Item Not Received / Item Not As Described claim with FeeBay…but if you’re really mad, go for it. Be prepared to receive a negative feedback rating from the seller though]

4) Contact the studio and celebrity and provide the police report number. [Assuming you can figure out the right people to contact of course. This is also not so effective unless the claim is for a lot of money or there are a lot of similar claims…but if you’re really mad, go for it]

5) Contact PayPal or your Credit Card and initiate a dispute to get your money back. [Bingo! This should be Step #1. The money disappearing from the seller’s account will be the most likely thing to get good results and doesn’t need to be for a lot of money or depend on others complaining too. But if you didn’t pay by credit card or PayPal, you may be out of luck].

Finally, in your letters to the studios and celebrities formally request that they implement a forgery prevention program. The FBI has suggested a forgery prevention program to the studios and celebrities using a tamperproof holographic label and it will virtually SHUT DOWN forgeries and illegal copies. It only costs a few pennies but the studios and celebrities are waiting for the public to show interest in forgery prevention so your voice definitely makes a difference. [What happens when some disgruntled underpaid flunkie working for a studio / network / celeb takes off with a bunch of the holographic labels and certificates and starts selling ‘authentic’ signed items? Would you then trust the label as a sign of authenticity? I thought not…]

[Also studios, networks and celebrities are more interested in you consuming their normally sold entertainments than your efforts to build your collection of items of associated memorabilia unless they are already in that memorabilia making business and there is a proven huge market for it (example: Elvis Presley Enterprises or Lucasfilms and the Star Wars franchises)]

To Contact the CELEBRITIES regarding forgeries address to:

Screen Actors Guild
Forgery Prevention
Alan Rosenberg; President
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3600
FAX NUMBER: (323) 549-6677

FBI Contact Information:

Forgery Program is called Operation Bullpen
san.diego@ic.fbi.gov
Telephone: (858) 565-1255

Here is the contact information for the studios:
Make sure to address to the LEGAL DEPARTMENTS:

STUDIOS

DREAMWORKS SKG

http://www.dreamworks.com

1000 Flower St.

Glendale, CA 91201

Phone 818-695-5000

METRO GOLDWYN MAYER (MGM)

http://www.mgm.com

10250 Constellation Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone 310-449-3000

MIRAMAX FILMS (LA)

http://www.miramax.com

8439 Sunset Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90069

Phone 323-822-4100

MIRAMAX FILMS (NY)

http://www.miramax.com

375 Greenwich St.

New York, NY 10013-2338

Phone 212-941-3800

NEW LINE CINEMA (LA)

http://www.newlinecinema.com

116 N. Robertson, Ste. 400

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone 310-854-5811

NEW LINE CINEMA (NY)

http://www.newlinecinema.com

888 Seventh Ave., 20th Fl.

New York, NY 10106

Phone 212-649-4900

PARAMOUNT PICTURES

http://www.paramount.com

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197

Phone 323-956-5000

SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.sony.com

10202 W. Washington Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90232-3195

Phone 310-244-4000

TURNER ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

http://www.turner.com

1050 Techwood Dr. NW

Atlanta, GA 30318-5604

Phone 404-827-1500

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

http://www.fox.com

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone 310-369-1000

UNIVERSAL

http://www.universalstudios.com

100 Universal City Plaza

Universal City, CA 91608

Phone 818-777-1000

VIACOM ENTERTAINMENT GROUP (LA)

http://www.viacom.com

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone 323-956-5000

WALT DISNEY COMPANY, THE

http://www.disney.com

500 S. Buena Vista St.

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone 818-560-1000

WARNER BROS. STUDIOS

http://www.warnerbros.com

4000 Warner Blvd.

Burbank, CA 91522

Phone 818-954-6000

TELEVISION NETWORKS

ABC ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.abc.com 500 S. Buena Vista St.

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone 818-460-7777

CBS ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.cbs.com 7800 Beverly Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036-2188

Phone 323-575-2345

COMEDY CENTRAL

http://www.comedycentral.com

1775 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

Phone 212-767-8600

FOX

http://www.fox.com

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone 310-369-1000

HBO (LA)

http://www.hbo.com

2049 Century Park East, Ste. 3600

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone 310-201-9200

HBO (NY)

http://www.hbo.com

1100 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-512-1000

MTV NETWORKS (LA)

http://www.mtv.com

2600 Colorado Ave.

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Phone 310-752-8000

MTV NETWORKS (NY)

http://www.mtv.com

1515 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-258-8000

NBC ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.nbc.com

3000 W. Alameda Ave.

Burbank, CA 91523-0001

Phone 818-840-4444

NICKELODEON/NICK AT NITE/TV LAND

http://www.nickatnitestvland.com/

1515 Broadway, 38th Fl.

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-258-7500

PBS

1320 Braddock Place

http://www.pbs.org

Alexandria, VA 22314-1698

Phone 703-739-5000

SHOWTIME NETWORKS, INC. (LA)

http://www.sho.com

10880 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1600

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone 310-234-5200

SHOWTIME NETWORKS, INC. (NY)

http://www.sho.com

1633 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

Phone 212-708-1600

TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION (TNT)

http://www.turner.com

4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 160

Burbank, CA 91505

Phone 818-977-5500

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

http://www.fox.com

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone 310-369-1000

UNITED PARAMOUNT NETWORK (UPN)

http://www.upn.com

11800 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90025

Phone 310-575-7000

VIACOM ENTERTAINMENT GROUP (LA)

http://www.viacom.com

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone 323-956-5000

VH1

http://www.viacom.com

1515 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-846-8000

WB TELEVISION NETWORK

http://www.thewb.com

4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 34-R

Burbank, CA 91522

Phone 818-977-5000