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Books Television The Courts

Wheel of Time TV Pilot Producers Sue Robert Jordan's Widow For Defamation 148

An anonymous reader writes The tale of the late-night Wheel of Time pilot that aired in a paid infomercial slot on FXX has taken another odd turn. Producers Red Eagle Entertainment LLC and Manetheren LLC have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for central California against Harriet McDougal (widow of James Rigney, who wrote the Wheel of Time novels under the pen name Robert Jordan), her company, Bandersnatch Group Inc., and twenty unnamed other persons ('Does 1-20'). The suit alleges that McDougal's statements about her lack of involvement in the pilot's production constitute breach of contract, slander, and interference with contractual relations and prospective economic relations; the suit demands declaratory relief and a jury trial.
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Wheel of Time TV Pilot Producers Sue Robert Jordan's Widow For Defamation

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    You looked at me funny, see you in court.

    • /oblg. <voice="Yakov Smirnoff">

      "America: Where you can sue anyone, anytime, for anything!"

  • Pen name? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2015 @05:05PM (#49069519)

    Robert Jordan wasn't his name?? All those years... And I didn't know.

  • by invictusvoyd ( 3546069 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @05:05PM (#49069521)
    Engineer : There was chaos and the god created the universe in 8 days or so . So I was needed first , to build design etc.

    Doctor : But then he created eve from adams rib so I had to be there for the surgery and the etc.

    Lawer : Haha .. who do you think created the chaos ?
  • "She said she had nothing to do with it, your honor!" And who would want to from the reviews. It seems she'll win cause she was explicitly talking about pilot and not the overall contract talk that she was involved in.
    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @05:19PM (#49069619)

      This is a clear case of not caring. On one hand the 'pilot' was a blatant attempt at working around their contract, and while I don't think it was as terrible as some think (as basic cable goes), was clearly an afterthought. On the other hand, it's hard to care at all about his wife's position. She was the one who delayed the ebook release for reasons that only cavemen can relate to, and she continues to generally pop up in annoying and unhelpful ways. Generally its' greedy people fighting over the monies, don't give a crap who wins or loses, the rest of us already have lost.

      • by halltk1983 ( 855209 ) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Monday February 16, 2015 @05:36PM (#49069729) Homepage Journal
        Having met her, spoken with her, and knowing people that know her well, that's not a fair assessment. She genuinely cares about the material. She was the editor for it all, and she knows it better than anyone other than perhaps Jim's assistant Maria. Saying she's just his wife / widow is very unfair, and saying that she's unhelpful is just untrue. That said, the ebook delay was inconvenient to many of my friends, but there's just something about holding hard bound epic fantasy that enthralls me, and makes me not care for the ebooks.
        • I don't really think it is fair to say that editor of TWoT did the series any favors. It is not that he was a terrible writer, but the books obviously suffered form a severe lack of decent editing. Perhaps if they had used a less personally involved person, they would of convinced him to cut out all the shit.
      • by guises ( 2423402 )
        Care to elaborate a little more on her ebook and other shenanigans? All I had heard of her is that she approved of Sanderson, who finished the series, and apparently he did a bang-up job.

        Regardless of who gets the money, the fact that this group has been squatting on the rights for so long and seems do be interested in doing nothing with them other than suing people means that they need to pass into the hands of someone else. I would support her case for that reason alone.
        • Honestly, I enjoyed the first book immensely and found the rest to be tolerable, at least until Sanderson picked up the reigns. Wow, he did an amazing job. I would love to read the entire WoT series re-written by Sanderson.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The ebook was delayed due to the fact that ebooks were (are?) apparently not handled very well by many bestseller lists. See http://brandonsanderson.com/its-finally-out/ for more information.

          (E.g., saying that only cavemen would worry about that reason is quite unfair as being on a bestseller list is quite important in the publishing world...)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by LordLucless ( 582312 )

          She deliberately delayed the release of the electronic version, because she was trying to rig the Times Best Seller List (apparently, the Times only counted dead-tree book sales at the time, so she didn't release the e-book version to try and force fans to buy dead-tree, so the purchases would help propel it up the list)

          • is that any different than when movie studios dont release DVD or streaming when in the theaters to prop up box office sales???

            I think you are making a big deal out of nothing. does it suck to wait a little longer? yeah, but you have options, get the hardcover (which is still better than ebooks by a large margin IMO) or wait until the "first run" is over
            • Or, you know, pirate it. Which is generally the same response to the movie studies pulling their dick move. Artificially limiting supply creates a black market. I don't know if her move helped the book's position on the Times, but I guarantee it drastically increased the motivation to pirate.

              • there is that route as well. I used to be the same way, i remember i think it was Jurassic park didnt come out on VHS for like 2 years after i saw it in theaters and i just hated waiting for it

                now im older, there are 1000000 different things to do, i guess i dont mind waiting as much as i did when i was younger
                • It's not really about what you or I would think or do - it's what people in aggregate do. If there's an artificial limitation in the legitimate supply of goods, people will find illegitimate ways to acquire them.

                  Think alcohol during prohibition. Marijuana (in most places) now. Western goods in communist Russia. And yeah, media where rights holder's are playing silly buggers. To appropriate a quote from your reference's prequel, "life finds a way".

                  If you're trying to manipulate people's behaviour by controll

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2015 @06:06PM (#49069869)

          From Good eReader [goodereader.com]

          In an incredibly stupid decision, the late Robert Jordan’s wife has caused the last Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light, to be delayed until April after the print book is released this week. Originally it was scheduled to be delayed for a full year. According to Galleycat, this has, so far, resulted in 119 one star reviews (now up to 122) on Amazon. I suspect that this one star reviewer’s comment is typical: “I instead will search internet when I get home and will be paying the first industrious individual that has scanned the book and offered for sale.” I think that a lot of people will be looking around certain sites for scanned copies.

          The actual author, Brian Sanderson, says that this decision was neither his nor Tor’s. On his blog he states:

          This is not my decision or Tor’s decision, but Harriet’s. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn’t about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband’s legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list. (Many of the bestseller lists are still handling ebooks in somewhat awkward ways.)

          As the last books have all hit number one, she doesn’t want to risk one of these not hitting number one, and therefore ending the series on a down note. (Even though each Wheel of Time book has sold more than its predecessor, including the ones I have worked on.) I personally feel her worries are unfounded, and have explained that to her, but it is not my choice and I respect her reasoning for the decision. She is just trying to safeguard Robert Jordan’s legacy, and feels this is a very important way she needs to do so. After talking about the issue, we were able to move the ebook up from the originally planned one-year delay to instead come out this spring.

          After they came out in ebook form I threw out my collection of the hardcovers (the library didn’t want them) and bought them all in ebook format. As to the last book, given her attitude, I either won’t buy it at all or will find a free copy somewhere. When will people learn that defying the consumer is never a good business tactic. She has probably done more to hurt her husband’s legacy by this ill-conceived action than she can imagine. From now on Robert Jordan’s Memory of Light will be remembered by the reading community as the source of an ebook that the author’s wife didn’t want the public to have. I think I’ll go over to Amazon and, for the first time, leave a 1 star review.

          • After they came out in ebook form I threw out my collection of the hardcovers (the library didn’t want them) and bought them all in ebook format.

            why not give them to schools??? or keep them. seems like a waste to throw them away. they will still be readable in 100 years, will the ebook? who knows

            • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
              The ebook will still be safely backup up on my calibre (or it's successor) server. I wont be tempted to throw it away because the space it takes up is negligible. When my children want to read it or loan it to their kids they won't have to deal with losing it or waiting until we visit grandpa. It won't get worn out when the kids read it in the bathroom or while their slurping up cereal.
              I could continue, but I think you get the point.
  • *sniff* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2015 @05:06PM (#49069529)

    What a bunch of wool-headed fools! *crosses arms beneath breasts*

  • I really loved that series for the first N books. Then at some point I concluded the story was being unnaturally dragged out. I eventually stopped reading the series before it was done. Which sucked, because at first it was the best series I'd ever read.

    • Re:Tragic series (Score:4, Interesting)

      by halltk1983 ( 855209 ) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Monday February 16, 2015 @05:33PM (#49069713) Homepage Journal
      It ends extremely well. I highly recommend finishing it. 14 books all told, grab them from the library if you don't want to invest the finance into it, it's definitely worth the time.
      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        I disagree. The ending went from dragged out too rushed, a difficult feat. It didn't tie into the rest of the story and basically igd iored all anything that was inconvenient and would need any sort of explanation.

        ----SPOILER----
        Rand gets burned out and is somehow delighted to spend the rest of his life without channeling (unlike any other character). Somehow his "marriage" bonds survive this ordeal (unlike warder bonds or any other type of one power bond). He rides off into the sunset with his harem of
        • Except he isn't really burned out. He doesn't access the One Power any more but simply weaves the Pattern directly (he wanted the pipe lit, and lo, it was). He's basically God at that point. Or maybe Tom Bombadil...

    • I made it through the first 4-5 books, then had to wait for the next. A few years later I made it from #1 - #5 or #6, but now that the series is "done", perhaps I'll pick it up again.
      • You might want to read the first book or two by Jordan, then find the summarized versions of the middle books somewhere online, then read the last few books written by Sanderson.
    • As I commented above, I loved the first book and the books written by Sanderson, but not the middle books so much. I would highly recommend reading the books written by Sanderson. I would love to read the entire series re-written by Sanderson. It would be amazing.
      • FWIW, Sanderson can't write a complete story in one novel either (although some of his shorter fiction is complete in itself). All of his novels are part of a series or have major unresolved issues that call for a sequel.

        • I don't have a problem with the length of the books, or the need for sequels. My problem is with Jordan's writing. For some reason the first book was fine, but the subsequent books? Not so much. I find Sanderson to be a far superior author to Jordan. I'd be find if the series still spanned 14 volumes, just as long as all 14 were written by Sanderson.
    • Read the last 3, but if you don't want to read the ones in the middle, read Leigh Butler's re-read [tor.com]. Though it may contain some spoilers for things you haven't gotten up to yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Should be glad that some of us aren't suing the estate for refunds - one book written 14 times...

  • 1) Buy movie rights.
    2) Make movie.
    3) Air in paid informercial time slot.
    4) (TBD)
    5) Profit!

    Makes you wonder it the whole thing was just a scam to get at her estate all along.

    In other news, the production companies are merging under the name "Streisand Corp, LLC".

  • Ok, I never watched the ill conceived TV program which by all accounts was simply a ploy by the production company to retain their rights to the show. Whatever, that's all legal BS that has absolutely nothing to do with the books or potential TV airing itself.

    The only reason its being piped up now is because she was publically unsatisfied with the end product. Well guess what? How many people even heard of this poor excuse for a program if it wasn't mentioned in this article? In all accounts, a hell of a lo

    • Harriet McDougal's position is not that she was unhappy with the quality. She claims that the rights were held by Universal and not Red Eagle so their production is a rip-off independent of the quality.

      • by thaylin ( 555395 )

        Actually it is that she was not involved with the show, thereby distancing herself from it. You are assuming something. It could very well be both.

        • I am not assuming anything. I am relating her stated position, and refuting claims about her unstated position on the basis that no one can know because they are unstated. I do not and cannot say that she does not hold any other position but no one else can say that she does.

  • All we need is another Sword of Truth debacle where the tv show is disgustingly horrid and offensive to any fans of the series. Sell the rights to HBO or Netflix, they seem to be the only two companies that are currently producing TV shows while actually caring about the quality and content.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Sword of Truth started well - I can't fathom why they veered off-story into a bunch of episodic drivel with no overarching plot. Did they only have the rights to the first book?

      • by thaylin ( 555395 )

        It was all in the name of character development, well and to lengthen the show.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Ah, so screenwriters who thought they were better than the successful author. Figures.

          • Screenwriting and fiction writing are two different things, and what works well in one medium may not work well in another. Moreover, screenwriters may be under pressure to lengthen or shorten a series. Writing a novel is a low-budget activity that requires very few people (author, editor, and whoever is responsible for getting the thing sold), while movies and TV shows are much higher-budget activities that require a lot of people, hence business decisions are more likely to override artistic ones.

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              Well, they didn't need to "lengthen" it unless they only had the rights to the first book. There were, what, 6 books in the series? Though I guess I can see it if the first book wasn't enough for even 1 season.

  • > her company, Bandersnatch Group

    Loooooooooool!

    • Frumious as it sounds, it's better than naming your movie production companies "Manetheran" and "Red Eagle" (i.e. straight out of the books), producing an allegedly crappy version of the books, and then suing.

  • The best part of the pilot was the opening credits. The actual storytelling was annoying. It was truly terrible.
  • BALEFIRE! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ann Coulter ( 614889 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @09:04PM (#49070755) Journal

    That TV pilot lacked the requisite balefire from the sky in the prologue of The Eye Of The World. That balefire can be put to good use on Red Eagle Entertainment LLC and Manetheren LLC and erasing them, the pilot, and this lawsuit from the Pattern.

    • That wasn't balefire. Leaving aside the fact that we've never seen balefire in any form except originating *from* the channeler (or ter'angreal), balefire would have burned the Dragon out of the pattern, never to be reborn.

      I could believe he *wanted* to use balefire - depending on how long it had been since the madness took him, it might even have worked to bring back his family - but despite the superficial resemblance (bar of searingly right light burns a hole into the earth where it hits) it just doesn't

      • by jnaujok ( 804613 )
        Jordan was asked that question at a reading and confirmed it was just Lews Therin drawing too much of the One Power to hold. So much power, in fact that he vaporized himself and a large portion of the ground (down to the mantle?) resulting in DragonMount.

        He specifically stated it was not balefire.
  • Wow. I just watched the show. That was really bad. I get that they rushed out some crap for legal reasons but I think surely this just puts another nail in the coffin of any chance of this making it to a great show, one day? Why can't WoT get the GoT treatment from HBO?
  • I haven't seen the actual agreement, but it sounds like the company is going against the spirit of the agreement. They were supposed to get a television series produced, probably which would have made a portion of the generated funds go back to the estate. They had seven years to do it, then the rights would revert back to the estate so they could find someone that could get it done. In trying to keep the rights despite that clause in the contract, they paid for a "pilot" episode to be created themselves

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