Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 6, 2014

Something I Completely Missed About That Preacher TV Project

imageNever send a comics reporter to write about television shows. I wrote this this morning:
not comics: I'm not all that interested in television/film adaptations of popular comic book series, but if DC picks up momentum in terms of having creator-driven stuff they published made into movies or prestige series, that could be a significant boon for them in retaining talent on the comics end of things. Preacher, and Game Of Thrones are similar to me -- to me -- in that they strike me as potentially more effectively as TV show than in their original forms. I wonder if they'll go pretty with the lead or if they'll go with someone like that very good series actor Walter Goggins.
Where I screwed up is assuming that DC was still involved. Apparently they aren't, or at least not in the full, deal-assembling way I assumed. Brandy Phillips at DC Entertainment nicely responded to my query after someone wrote me a "hey, you goofed up" e-mail with "Preacher is a creator-owned project, DC Entertainment is not involved in the show."

Well, okay then.

Someone off the record and not for attribution but someone I trust with some knowledge of the situation described it to me like this: "DC's media rights to Preacher expired, after more than a decade of trying to get this show going and failing miserably. They refused to re-assign media rights to Garth [Ennis], which he tried to get back when Paul [Levitz] cancelled The Boys over its content, despite it being WildStorm's only hit at the time. Within weeks -- no kidding -- of getting his rights back, Garth got Preacher to Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] and AMC. It's an interesting story, and it might generate interest in other creator-owned DC titles, but it's actually a deterrent for them in retaining talent, since most of the folks Vertigo would publish all know one another and [are] aware of the happenings with Preacher."

So that was an incredibly poor and sloppy assumption on my part on a day I seem to be leading the world in sloppy assumptions. My apologies. And yes, this could have the opposite effect for DC. There should be a slight boost for DC Entertainment and DC Comics by virtue of its long association with the title, its build-to-success there, and the ability of creators like Garth Ennis to build a name for themselves in a way that may help them facilitate success and deals elsewhere. But otherwise, it seems like a detriment. If a sole operator has greater success in securing a potentially lucrative televsion deal of the kind everyone wants after the outright failure of such a deal being secured by the big company, there is much less of a reason to work with the big company in question on a whole host of project-types given the options in the current creative landscape. Adjust your expectations and career goals and press your questions during negotiations as appropriate in the light of this information. I imagine we might learn more in the days ahead about the exact nature of the reversion -- if there's anything as of yet unclear -- and what rights lie with whom and to what percent if that's at issue. I would also imagine there may be interpretive objections. But the thrust of my initial interpretation was wrong; seems the opposite is closer to true.

As always, I'm glad for the creators. I hope I got that right this time and I'll add anything pertinent to this post if contacted.
posted 4:25 pm PST | Permalink

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