Apologies to any Republican readers out there (though my Republican friends generally hate Romney almost as much as Obama) but the Mary Pickford Foundation, since its little shake up last February, has become, in my opinion, as gaffe filled as Romney.
I am speaking my own mind and opinions here, which are not eligible to be sued over. And as I have representation I don’t think it’d be wise of anyone to waste money (OR Mary’s money) SLAPPing me. Considering SLAPPing me to shut me up hasn’t worked before, it won’t work now. I am not authorized to speak on anyone’s behalf but my own, I have not ran this by anyone, and this is strictly me doing what I do best: standing up for what I believe in.
Since the shakeup the regime has hired an overpriced feminist blogger, stolen content from other researchers without credit (and then when called on it gave credit but did not get permission), and sued what they have somehow deemed the enemy: the Mary Pickford Institution.
Its a bit of a confusing story but basically last winter MPF decided it wanted to do away with MPI. MPI had existed since 1999 (I believe, might be off a year or two), was created by MPF, was funded and approved by MPF. MPI was given the domain marypickford.com with MPF’s blessing.
The foundation was created in the 50s by Mary Pickford for her charitable works (and boy would she call me a commie Chaplin for my statement above on Republicans). Towards her death she had various people employed to help set up the Foundation as her legacy, with the caveat that none of the money was allotted to restoring or preserving or screening or releasing her films. Now 3 men sit on the MPF board, I believe 2 out of the 3 are sons of these original men (so nepotism) and if I’m wrong then its all 3. Some of this drama was covered here.
MPF never did much publicly in the ensuing time. Mary died in 1979 with about $10 million, and today they still have $10 million after 30 some years which is quite impressive given inflation and money has been spent.
MPI was created to do various public things (or so my understanding) including the charitable work of the Mobile Film Classroom which taught underprivileged kids how to make films. That strikes me as something Mary would want.
Other than that MPI seemed to lose a lot of money blessings in the late 00s (post recession). They had the mobile film classroom, but anything from releasing Mary’s movies to restoration was something they weren’t given money for. They continued doing screenings and running the literal Institute for anyone interested in Mary Pickford (think a very small museum/screening room).
Then one day after one of the board members was ousted from MPI, all of sudden MPF wanted to bring the hair of the Gods down on MPI. They were told to relinquish the domain, all rights to using Mary’s name or image (which the foundation owned rights to but had obviously given permission for before), and stop all things including the Mobile Film Classroom. They were literally given about two weeks and told if they didn’t comply they wouldn’t get their paychecks or rent covered for the month (or any time after).
Things got messy, this apparently dragged out all summer, MPF got a site marypickford.org with said gaffed content. They also decided to sue Timeline Films, run by MPI employee Hugh Neely for the domain. Problem: Timeline films had no control over that…MPI still had a board and it was MPI’s decision to make, not Timelines.
Eventually an offer was made with the board’s approval to basically give in to all demands. MPF said ‘umm no forget it’ and promptly sued Neely personally as well. As his site states for…? No good reason. Thus why I am in the opinion that the term SLAPP is appropriate (i.e. senseless lawsuits to so there someone into submission)
Now mind you Neely and the other employees have had no paychecks in the ensuing times, this was their literal way to make a living. And now he needs to pay a lawyer who says he should win, but it will cost so many expensive lawyer filled hours to make that happen.
I am sick and tired of seeing silent film people, in my opinion, act so crazy. These are the kind of people who would Da Vinci code you for a copy of Cleopatra, kiss your ass for a film print of A Sainted Devil, or be your buddy to rub Valentino’s shirt. These people, I personally find, to be creepy.
The American legal system is so full of holes it might as well be swiss cheese. The fact SLAPP is even a thing tells you that. I could sue a book reviewer in Colorado for a bad review, and pending they were served in person and had no money and never had a lawyer, I could win large sums. That’s what happened to me, I was unable to get a lawyer and even the filing clerks told me my filings and evidence was moot, the Judge wouldn’t read anything not legally formatted.
“Oh well just use those free places…” I took 3 hours of busing to the ghetto of Inglewood, where meth addicts shit in the streets (literally) to attend the only clinic that would even help me. None of those clinics you hear about will help you for a civil case, because civil means for every filing you have to write up 30 pages of legalese and basically be a lawyer or law school graduate. Even the ghetto one didn’t help. 4 lawyers sat around listening to me, “Sounds like he’ll have to do something…like harm her physically…before the court will even help her.” That’s real reassuring to hear. One gave me their number to call in 2 weeks while they mulled my case. When I called they’d forgotten and said they’d come up with nothing to help me.
So you can see why I take this Pickford Foundation Debacle so personally. I’ve known Hugh for years and he is a kind man always helping someone out. He is not malevolent or even chaos minded. They sued him and his company for something MPI had control over. That’s ridiculous.
Now Hugh has a few weeks to raise the money and he’s taking a course of action I long considered: asking for help. This is his site: http://hughneelydefensefund.com/
You got $5? Help him out. I know its silly in a week to ask for help for a charity endeavor and now this but its the right thing to do. We have to drive the bullies out of silent film, because if they had their way silent film would die with them (Cinecon aficionados have said this). Well if we let them run around like a bunch of crazed dictators then yes IT WILL.
And may I say for what I hope is the final time, how ashamed I am by the Mary Pickford Foundation. They have so much money, and their using it for stupid things like this while stealing content from authors who would have gladly given permission for free. SHAMEFUL. I hope all sane silent film fans know its best to never deal with and avoid them like Cinecon or them or zealous organizations, less you end up railroaded like Hugh.