I’ve lost count how many times The Walt Disney Company has been sued for stealing this person or another’s idea for a tv show, movie, attraction, or even a whole theme park (see EPCOT). To counter these lawsuits Disney has set up an internal procedure forbidding all staff to look at externally submitted ideas, instead referring them to the legal team to be disposed of properly with a form letter. Of course, the lawsuits claim that somehow their ideas get stolen and used anyway.
Now there just might be some evidence that Disney’s internal procedure might actually be as the lawsuits have accused. Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood blog has posted a two page memo from ABC Studios Executive Vice President Howard Davine that puts down in writing the procedure for questioning the need to license an idea.
Finke claims the memo says show runners and other producers should bring foreign formats to ABC Studios first “so that the studio can steal the idea without paying the fat licensing fees that would accompany an up-and-up deal”. You just shouldn’t put that down in writing, you know.
Or it just might be someone got sloppy explaining the preferred method for handling unsolicited ideas.
If the memo is authentic, Disney has a whole lot of explaining to do.