Oprah Winfrey, Diane Sawyer and My X-Rays

This is a story of two famous women, and a bunch of x-rays that hang in my office. Both wanted to use them on their shows as examples of surgical equipment that had been left behind. One of the films is to the right, and the others on my web site.

A few years ago I received an email from the Oprah Winfrey show. It seemed that some guy named Dr. Oz wanted to use those x-rays for a show on medical mistakes.

Sure, I said, you can use them, so long as you give me credit so that these don’t disappear into the public domain. Interested parties should know their original source. Thus started the most ludicrous negotiation I’ve ever had in my life on any subject. After a few dozen emails over several weeks, they successfully overlawyered the issue to death and they never saw the light of day on the almighty Oprah show.

I confess that, when I finally wrote As Seen On Oprah! (Kinda, Sorta, Almost) I had a lot of fun. More fun than should be legal, perhaps. It never got much in the way of pageviews, but it’s always been one of my favorites.

So this afternoon I get a call from a producer from Diane Sawyer for ABC News. They also want to use the x-rays for show on medical mistakes.

We consummated a deal in about a minute. You can see the clip here as my films have their 15 nanoseconds of fame and glory.

Two different media divas; two different ways of handling a routine matter.


One Response Leave a comment

  • Old Geezer 2012.12.24 at 08:36 | Quote

    After some 35 years in the IT business, including executive level postings in Fortune 200 firms, I decided to give in to a life-long desire and “get into show-biz.” I have some writing talent and some visual arts talent, so what could go wrong?

    I started at the very bottom — as a driver on an independent video production. Whenever I saw stuff not being handled very well (by the ever-present unpaid Production Assistants) I’d volunteer to the producers to make things right and then add that assignment to my tasks. I learned lots of stuff.

    First lesson: not everyone on a show-biz gig — even production staff — can find their butt with both hands. This is especially true at the bottom feeder levels.

    Eventually I worked my way up into Camera and Electrical and got some TV crew gigs to round out the CV. Also did some bit acting parts on forgettable film gigs, and then branched into live comedy in midtown. Some tedium but mostly good fun.

    Second and biggest lesson: Dealing with show-biz professionals can be extremely frustrating for one raised on engineering and commercial business. Show-biz types seem to be driven by the need to be liked (more than the other types I’ve just mentioned) and so they will often tell you what they think you want to hear, rather than the way things are. Misunderstandings are rife.

    They are also inveterate dream chasers, leading one into projects that “can’t fail” until such projects finally bounce off of reality and the lights go dark.

    I also have the least amount of trust for show-biz “business” relationships than any other I’ve been involved in. For a great comic look at this, see the film “Get Shorty” and watch how you can never tell how the Gene Hackman character (a producer/director) will decide to act in given circumstances.

    Having said all that, creative show-biz people can be some of the most invigorating and interesting people to be around, and a film production of, say, ten weeks, turns into a mini-business with strong family-like overtones that is amazing to experience.

    I just know now to always keep my hand on my wallet and to read all of the fine print (when there is any print at all) and to keep detailed notes on all verbal agreements. Submit all invoices in a timely manner and always check the credits to see how they misspelled your name.

    I’m still tinkering in the biz to this day.

    So, your two views behind the TV curtain reverberated with me. Thanks for the tales.

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