Wednesday, February 06, 2008


A gonif, I should explain to the Yiddish-Impaired, is a thief. Hollywood is full of ’em these days - no surprise - but these days, their main stock-in-trade is ideas.

The Missus and I were enjoying a few draughts from the Glass Teat this evening when Fox showed a promo for their upcoming new series New Amsterdam.

We looked at each other. The story, about an Immortal Guy who lives in New York City, seemed strangely familiar.

Let’s just take a look at the description from the Fox Broadcasting Company website, shall we?
NEW AMSTERDAM is the story of a New York homicide detective unlike any other. He is brilliant, mysterious, reckless, magnetic, unknowable. And he has a profound secret – he is immortal...

...Amsterdam has found [immortality] to be a mixed blessing. Over the course of three centuries, he’s experienced endless adventure and honed his many talents. But everyone Amsterdam meets must leave him in time; lovers and children die while he remains young.

Having witnessed its entire history from colonial outpost to mega-metropolis, John Amsterdam is the living embodiment of New York City. He and the island of Manhattan are now part and parcel of each other...
Gee, this sounds a lot like a book both I and She Who Must Be Obeyed have read within the past several years: Forever, by Pete Hamill.

What possible similarities could there be?

Well, the main character in Forever is an Irishman, one Cormac O’Connor, who travels to America and is given immortality by an African priestess for having saved the life of an enslaved prince. The immortality comes with a price: Cormac can never leave Manhattan Island. In New Amsterdam, John Amsterdam is given Life Eternal by a spell cast by a Native American girl whom he saves by interposing himself between her and a deadly sword blow. He cannot die...until he finds True Love. (It never hurts to have a Politically Correct Backstory.) Forever starts about a century later than New Amsterdam, but there seems to be too many similarities to particular, the especial connection between the (respective) heroes and the island of Manhattan.

I will be very interested to see whether Pete Hamill ever receives a scintilla of credit for the TV show. I suspect not; and I further suspect that he would have a legitimate cause of action in that event.

This smacks of the recent film Idiocracy, and its complete lack of acknowledgement of any influence from Cyril Kornbluth’s classic SF short story “The Marching Morons.” The remarkable similarities in major plot points between Idiocracy and “The Marching Morons” were the topic of a post by Yours Truly some time ago. Mike Judge’s failure to credit Kornbluth is reprehensible.

Is this a new trend? Are things in Hollywood not loathsome enough, with studios recycling old ideas in a ridiculous orgy of Sequel- and Prequelitis? Is outright plagiarism now to be the Order of the Day?

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