Thursday, April 21, 2011

Real Men Don't - Steal Others' Ideas

I'm deviating from my main topic today to bring to your attention something I learned about in the wee hours today. I hope you continue reading because it is important.

One of my online friends is an actor named Tom Kiesche. As it happens, he is also from New Jersey. While he may not have a name you recognize, you'll probably recognize his face from a variety of commercial efforts: DHL (There's no crying in shipping!), Dominos Pizza (They're statues!) and the famous "Messin' with Sasquatch" Jack Links Jerky commercial called Pickup. He's played the recurring role of Clovis in Breaking Bad on AMC as well as roles in a variety of other shows such as Bones, Monk, NCIS, and others. He also had feature roles in the movies Desolation CanyonAlien Raiders and WMD

Tom has his own production company (Big Quiche Productions) and writes and creates a lot of his own short and playful videos. His versatility literally has no bounds. He sings, acts, directs, screenwrites and produces a lot of different types of film work, including a series called "Real Men Don't". This link takes you to one of Tom's creations that was uploaded to YouTube in 2006, meaning its creation and development was earlier than that.

However, a new series of  Real Men Don't vignettes have been produced by none other than Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore as part of their efforts to fight child sex slavery. While the goal is noble and different than the goal of Tom's own RMD series, the fact remains that the overall look, feel, timing and humor of the shorts being shown by Ashton and Demi are markedly similar to those produced by Tom Kiesche. In fact, Tom has been contacted by a lawyer suggesting that he sue the DNA Foundation (Demi and Ashton) over the intellectual property rights. 

Tom, however, would rather avoid that. It's nice money if you can get it, but he'd rather earn his money the traditional way. He has concerns primarily that he will look like the copy cat rather than the other way around. There are two online articles already about this potential controversy. How long before there are others in the mainstream media?

Tom has asked people who believe he has been wronged to use social media to pass the word on to Ashton and Demi (Twitter, Facebook, wherever they might be accessible) that the comparisons between their efforts and his are too coincidental and need to be either changed or him given credit for creating the concept. He wants the public to continue to support the DNA campaign, for the Ashton and Demi to continue their shorts, but feels they could very easily make things right for everyone by acknowledging and respecting creativity and originality, creating a win-win for all parties. Them, him, and their wonderful campaign. 

So, if you believe, as I do, that there has been a conceptual borrowing of Tom's original series, then please post your concerns wherever the DNA Foundation can see them. There is power in numbers. They need to hear from more than a few that Tom Kiesche's original work needs to be acknowledged. He is a genuinely nice guy who deserves to be treated fairly.

Please read these articles for more information:

'Real Men Don't' Controversy, Exclusive

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Kiesche vs Ashton Kutcher: “Real Men Don’t” Concept Controversy

Please contact Demi and Ashton at the following about this:

Ashton Kutcher (Twitter)

Demi Moore (Twitter)


  1. This was the most interesting blog post I've read today. It strikes me as just another form of intellectual theft. However, if he makes a stink about it, people will likely tell him to back off, as it's for a good cause. At the very least, he should have been consulted about it before anything like this was done.

  2. While I believe it is entirely possible and probable for people to steal ideas and concepts, I know from experience that lots of people come up with the same ideas and concepts as others. Over the years I have felt that others have stolen my ideas, too, especially when the products, story ideas, etc. come out YEARS after I conceived of them, but others who came up with the same ideas somehow had more pull, more publicity, and more money than I did and benefited from the ideas and products. Moving pictures in the Harry Potter movies – I came up with that idea long before J.K. Rowling started writing her series, but I can't blame her for coming up with the idea and capitalizing on it. I think once an idea hits the atmosphere, it's a matter of who grabs onto it first and uses it. I feel sorry that your friend wasn't able to get his idea going, but maybe your exposure will help others realize that he also came up with the idea – quite possibly before Ashton and Demi did. I wish him luck.

  3. Theresa, I just read your comment...

    If you didn't just come up with the HARRY POTTER idea on your own... But you actually wrote the HARRY POTTER book 5-6 years earlier, and you called it HARRY POTTER... And you put it out into the world FOR FREE for the world to enjoy... In the hopes that someday you would maybe get credit for it, or recognition for it, or payment for it, or future writing jobs from it...

    But they put a fancier cover on it, changed a few words every few pages, and they got it in more book stores. And then they went on CNN to promote it for a good cause and for their own PR...

    Would you feel the same way? Or maybe just a little stronger?

    I know zeitgeist exists... But... So many people who are friends, who are professionals in the Industry are saying "it's way too close for comfort."

    I hear what you're saying, and I didn't find them... Friends alerted me. And as far as JK Rowlings... I think a lot of her ideas have come from other previous sources, especially the first book... She just dresses them different enough... That technique has been around since before Greek Theater and Shakespeare.

  4. I think Tom ought to to add an intro/trailer to his videos to make it clear to his viewers that his are the originals, and he is not a copycat. If he doesn't have them already, he ought to maybe be seeking copyright on these, so if the ideas are copied, he can at least claim compensation.

    If Ashton/Demi are decent people, they ought to recognize that he is the originator, and the best solution all round would be to work with Tom don't you think.

  5. Go Tom go!!! I got your back!

    All the best,

    Paul J. Alessi
    Producer / Actor

  6. Well said. I get so frustrated from all the copying, but somehow it just seems more appalling when famous people do it. No wonder society is headed in the wrong direction, our role models are lacking.

  7. The problem as I see it, those who have made it, "Define Made It", they feel carte blanche diplomatic immunity to plagerize at will. Hard to prove and until proved to be so public support lies with the"names".

    Plus the threat of industry backlash is often enough for one to let it go and fight another day. Most emerging artists also lack the finances to contest the issue or to even obtain copy right or computer security systems to protect their works.

    The problem with needing a hand up is you are wide open to be blindsided. Because this happens do not paint all film industry types in the same color but due diligence is in order until your product is signed sealed and delivered.

    That is a hard pill to swallow and of course it is unjust and the course of action that is being suggested here might just have the desired impact.

    Being counter productive in an industry that eats it young can alternate or reverse popularity very quickly. If the "farm team" is not given the chance and lets face it youth must be served then the creative process is caught stealing home !

  8. I hope this gets worked out in Tom's behalf and without the organization being dragged through the mud in the mean time.

    You are a good friend to support Tom in this way.

  9. This is a great post, thanks for bringing this further into the light. I'll gladly add my name and feelings to the campaign. Go Tom!

    I’m A-Z Blogging on Langley Writes about Writing and Langley’s Rich and Random Life

  10. And they probably feel they can get away with it because of how well known they are. It makes me sick.

  11. Having run a small anti-piracy campaign and having also found someone who blatantly copied and published my own work on their website recently without my authorization to do so (AND this person is making money through advertisements surrounding MY content....that damn thief!), I can completely understand the concerns and interests in this situation with Ashton and Demi Moore and their DNA Foundation. Hopefully, they will work with the actor with that Youtube series to remedy the situation because this really sucks.

    Much like Theresa mentioned though, people have similar ideas all of the time so taking credit for something that one creates could be just if that person thought of the idea for what they are promoting.

    Still, if the short videos that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are making have obvious similarities to the actor's Real Men Don't series, then I believe that is a case of poor decision making on their part. As successful as Ashton Kutcher is, especially with his Punk'd TV show, I'm sure he could come up with lots of original ideas that are not similar to that of the Real Men series on Youtube.

    The argument for credit may be a hard sell though because like Amy mentioned, since they are so well know, they probably think that it's ok to do what they are doing.

    I hope this situation works out for the best of both parties involved.

    The Madlab Post

  12. I also want to add:

    How ironic that this issue has surfaced for an organization called "DNA"!

    You'd think that they would make sure to not use other people's ideas....I guess that didn't figure into the equation.

    The Madlab Post

  13. What a load of rubbish. Since when is "Real men don't" a trademark?

    Its sounds to me like a golddigger trying to get money from a noble cause.

    It's nasty people like Tom that make Americans look shallow. He is an unknown nobody doing cheesy adverts. In all the adverts he plays the jerk (no role model here).

    He then gets simpletons to play the sympathy card. Disgusting

    The most annoying article that I read today

  14. Geez, Mr. Anonymous, too cowardly to state your name? If he was a golddigger, he'd be suing them for the money one lawyer suggested he sue for. He doesn't want the money. He wants acknowledgement that the idea was originally his. Nothing more. And, because exposure is the key for ALL up and coming actors, it's an exposure he can use. Funny, though, but I kind of feel this is Mace's stylings in this post of anonymity. And, the fact that you are calling me a simpleton shows how little you know about me. But, using your method of analysis, I could say that you are a frustrated actor who has never even managed to get beyond local theater and who is so internally focused that nothing or no one in the world could meet his standards. this my ex-husband? Nah - he can't even turn on a computer, let alone use one.

  15. Someone above wrote, that because myself, some of friends, some family and some fans are asking a question publicly (people in America and other countries) that makes me a shallow gold digger?

    Interesting... Let me ask you this...

    Does an honorable cause justify theft (if theft occurred)?

    If you came home to find that ½ of your valuables in your house were stolen (good forbid), and the robber left a note and said, “I stole ½ your stuff, and emptied ½ your bank account, and gave it to a campaign against Child Sex Trafficking” would you just sit quiet? Or would you tell the police?

    Here’s another example I gave to a friend that does massage/healing, who felt that they probably did “borrow” the concept, but like you felt they were borrowing it for a good cause.

    I don’t know what you do, but I’m sure if you wanted I could tailor it for you… And it’s not a new phenomenon… Neither is the concept of Zeitgeist…. But here’s what I wrote her, and then she COMPLETELY understood.

    “If you developed a NEW way to do a massage. You practiced it. You spent hours on it. Days. Weeks. Years. You bought a web domain naming it. You promoted it. You had people tell you they enjoyed it. You put it on YOUTUBE so that all could see it and benefit from it. (for the record "Real Men Don't" came out of my childhood, when I was nicknamed "Quiche" and the book REAL MEN DON'T EAT QUICHE was popular...)

    Anyway... Then, 5 years later, after you did the technique, and marketed it, and all that jazz... Someone else, a well know Guru "comes up with" a "brand new technique"...

    Though it's SO CLOSE to yours most of your friends say... HEY (her name) he stole your technique and is taking credit for it... And he goes out into the world saying HOW GREAT HE IS FOR STARTING this completely new thing. He benefits from it in all sorts of ways… (PR is worth millions of dollars) And yes he's healing people, or helping people... And you're happy about that. He's validated the fact that your technique is amazing.

    You think you'd be a bad guy if you said from the unemployment line, "Ummm, I kinda came up with that?" And you think it's totally fine when people come to you and say... For the rest of the time you practice that technique... "Oh you're doing the famous Guru's technique."

    And when your friends say "(her name) you came up with that..." "That's too close for comfort..." "He stole your technique..." "You should sue him..." "Hire a lawyer..."

    And then when you say, to the person that is getting the massage from you, who just said... "Oh you're doing the famous Guru's technique." -- "Actually, I created this technique 5 years ago..." YOU'RE A BAD GUY? “

  16. As for the people who have also ask the question in support...

    I don't know them all, but many who have written me, or posted in cyberspace are individuals who look carefully before they speak. Where as in the very few conversations I've had with people who aren't supportive...

    I also have found that most if not all haven't read the original article in the Canon News, or watched the videos. They get so emotionally charged feeling like I've attacked a cause seeking money... Not realizing I haven't attacked anything or demanded anything.

    Some of the supporters have been shocking to me... Published writers, produced film makers, directors, producers of TV shows, producers of films, actors, free lance artists, working musicians, graphic designers, bloggers, radio hosts, lawyers, and dozens of other careers that don't deal with Intellectual Property rights...

    And not to attack you at all, but a TRADEMARK is completely different, and NEVER has that word been brought up in any of my conversations until just now, and it's completely something different than Intellectual Property.

    Best of luck to you, if you'd actually like to have a honest conversation out of the shadows, that you'd be able to refrain from name calling and insults, I'd welcome it.