The L Word Franchise: All I Wanna Say is That They Don’t Really Care About Us (Anymore)

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No one can claim ownership for the idea of a lesbian ensemble show. It’s not brain surgery. Any lesbian that’s ever watched TV felt the void. It was the most obvious accident waiting to happen; it was just a matter of who and when.”

- Michelle Abbot, co-creator of The L Word

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“I felt like there’s life in that idea [doing a second season of The Real L Word]. First of all, this network has had a long relationship with gay and particularly lesbian audiences that I think is important to protect.”

-David Nevins, Showtime President

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AfterEllen: Who would you say is the ideal audience for [The Real L Word]? A lot of the LGBT community didn’t really feel like it was a show for them.

Ilene Chaiken: I don’t know about the community. I don’t know who the community is who we’re talking about.

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When one of our pre-selected Autostraddle Calendar Girls for 2012 got cast on The Real L Word, we were asked if Real L Word cameras could attend the photo shoot. My knee-jerk reaction was HELL TO THE NO WE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING IN THAT SHIT.

My concerns included:

1. Would it seem hypocritical for Autostraddle representatives to appear in a show that I openly despise?

2. Can we handle the expenses/time we’d have to spend to accommodate the camera crew on what is already a very tightly-scheduled shoot?

3. Do I, even by proxy, want to contribute (even more) to anything constructed by Ilene Chaiken?

4. If the cast members have no control over how they’re portrayed in the show, we probably won’t either, which is terrifying.

5. I personally don’t ever wanna be on the teevee, but how do Alex/Robin/Sara/etc feel about that?

And most importantly…

6. Would we be credited if our footage was used? Because if not, I think that the only thing really being “used” here is US.

“4” and “6” were my biggest concerns — but especially 6, because there’s a lot of “getting screwed by Ilene Chaiken” stories floating around Hollywood.

And Ilene Chaiken is, of course, producer of The Real L Word  — as the only producer in all of history to consistently have her own photograph taken with the yearly cast promo shots, she’s made this fact difficult to ignore.

Furthermore, last year Ms.Chaiken prohibited the cast of The Real L Word from doing interviews with us, which I found endlessly amusing and exciting at the time (I believe I called it “my greatest achievement in life”), especially because it was such a stupid move. Allegedly we shared this honor with another, much larger, lesbian website. Preventing two major lesbian websites from promoting your lesbian show? I’ve never bought into the idea that Ms.Chaiken desires a straight male audience — maybe she’s aiming for the illiterate?

So what we have here isn’t a relationship built on respect and trust. I mean you guys. Do I even need to say it?

Anyhow, my relationship to the L Word franchise has always been one of mutual exploitation — they use people like me to promote their show for free by writing about it, and I use their show to bolster our traffic, reach and, ideally subsequently, our income.

Couldn’t this be like that, after all?

Alex and I talked it out and decided to go for it — but just to be safe, we wanted to ensure IN WRITING that if any of our footage was used, we’d be credited visually/verbally on-screen.

This credit could take a number of forms, all of which you’ve witnessed in reality shows, often egregiously — a pan up to the sign of a restaurant/club/store…

… a swing shot down to the computer screen where a website is visible (there are five shots of websites in the first two episodes)…

… or, ideally, a “lower third” indicating who the hell those people are that you’re seeing on your screen…

Thus, we added this clause to the Autostraddle.com release form:

However, Producer shall be obligated to identify Owner’s trademark (“Licensed Material”) in the published material should the Autostraddle.com Calendar Photo Shoot be included in the final edit.

Adjustments were made to accommodate the shoot. It went awesomely. The Magical Elves were magical and fun to work with. They assured Alex and Robin that there’d be no feasible way to exclude our mention in the final cut anyhow — “I mean, they can’t just have some random photoshoot and not explain what it’s for, that’d be weird.”

Oh… but indeed they can.

Indeed they did.

When I got my press screener of The Real L Word‘s first two episodes, I couldn’t figure out what shocked me more — seeing Romi’s entire vagina onscreen or the fact that the photoshoot scene was pulled off without any credit to Autostraddle whatsoever!

What followed was Alex and I getting riled up followed by me crying on my Mom’s couch for 2-3 hours about how the little guy really has no recourse and will always lose to the big guy and the only way to win anything is to become big and how THIS isn’t the kind of lesbian community I signed up for. Either we get credit or they pull our footage!, I said.

What followed THAT was a series of conversations/negotiations between us (Alex repping Autostraddle and Robin’s lawyer repping Robin), Magical Elves (magic), and Showtime (Ilene Chaiken’s side of things).

Magical Elves confirmed that Magical Elves had included credits and acknowledgments for both Autostraddle and Robin in the cuts that they delivered to Showtime.

Showtime removed those credits.

Why?

Unclear.

Magical Elves recognized that we were indeed contractually entitled to our mention and tried to make Showtime care too. But Showtime passed on fixing it, saying it’d be “very costly” to modify at this point, which, honestly, really isn’t our problem!

So the negotiations began: would we change the contract to say that a mention in Franny’s blog was enough? We said that we’d love/expect the blog mention, but we weren’t changing our contract to accept less than what we were entitled to.

After a week of full-court press and another week of dwindling, unpromising verdicts, the network’s final offering was an “end credit” for Autostraddle (nothing for Robin) — meaning we’d be referenced for about .005 seconds in the closing credits, smashed at the bottom of the screen during the “scenes from next week,” because obviously after watching The Real L Word most people’s #1 feeling is “I wonder who made this fantastic television program, let me sit here super-close to the TV during the credits to find out!”

They ended the conversation there, although we never agreed to the adjusted terms.

No hesitation, no regrets, no remorse: this is how you treat the community that still, despite escalating suckage, still supports your lesbian shows?

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Yes, the photo-shoot scene was only two minutes long, but being on teevee is a big deal (that’s why commercials/product placement are so expensive!) and really, it’s the principle of it. And while our mention is omitted, brand exposure is given to two (fantastic!) lesbian magazines, one GAY MEN’S MAGAZINE and another lesbian website in an upcoming episode. So it’s clearly not an across-the-board policy.

I didn’t expect/want a scene about us (although, I guess, if the show really is supposed to be about the LA Lesbian Community — the sex and the glamour of it — isn’t Francine’s Autostraddle Calendar Girl photo shoot a perfect example? This thought just occurred to me.), but I did expect words that said “Robin Roemer, photographer, Autostraddle.com” on the bottom of any screen she appeared on.

This situation is disappointing/confusing on so many levels.

This website has devoted more webspace to The Real L Word than any other website in the world. I’m not proud of that, I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED. This season there’s been nary a peep from the mainstream press, leaving a handful of lesbian sites responsible for all the coverage, despite Ilene’s disregard for the community we represent.

Furthermore, up until now, I’d describe our relationship with Showtime itself as “fantastic.” I’ve had a relationship with them since 2007, two years before launching Autostraddle. I’ve been invited to their offices and met their people, they donated kickass stuff to our 2009 Rodeo Disco raffle, gave Autostraddle exclusives and great interviews, we did an L Word promo — fuck, once upon a time, Showtime even gave me a job hosting an online web-series about The L Word. I’ve never had trouble getting press screeners. I was a Guestbian writer on OurF-CKINGChart! I invented the piano key skinny tie!

So. Why would Showtime go out of their way not to credit us?

Who, exactly, made that call?

And isn’t it really fucking sad that, while we were shocked, we had also anticipated this result by taking direct action to ensure it wouldn’t happen?

Because let’s be real: despite the fact that The L Word franchise is allegedly devoted to the lesbian community, there are a few things we trust less than this fucking show and its accordant spinoffs and websites.

Ilene’s definitely not the only lesbian in Hollywood with a pitch or show runner skills, but perhaps the ease of perpetuating this misconception of her solitary genius isn’t her achievement — maybe it’s her intention. She’s not the Only Person Putting Lesbians On Television and she never has been and she didn’t even create The L Word‘s beloved characters and spectacular first season herself (but she claimed to!),  What she did was connect some very talented storytellers to network money and get an all-lesbian show on the air. She’s clearly a talented businesswoman and for that I commend and appreciate her. She was the first woman to prove, in a major way, that lesbians could be profitable.

But the honeymoon is long over, isn’t it?

If you weren’t already convinced by the fact that Max’s storyline was shockingly transphobic, OurChart was epically mishandled, Season Six sucked, Dana diedher best writers were let go and replaced by her girlfriend, she dismissed universal consensus regarding That Betty Theme Song, 608 was the worst most poorly written series finale of all time, existing only to sell a shitty script to Showtime about lesbians in prison, Season One of The Real L Word was terrible and had abysmal ratingssome cast members were practically tricked into participatingIlene prides herself on manipulating her cast and refuses to give up the spotlight/won’t let the shows speak for themselves (“She is never at a loss for words that reveal a narcissism that’s usually reserved for sociopaths or people far more successful than she, who can actually deliver on their promises”) or that “the great failure of ‘The L Word’ has and continues to be that Ilene’s ego is its unseen yet most insistent character” or that during Season Six, Jennifer Beals “would do the scenes and then go to [her] trailer and yell WHYYY???” or that Showtime’s new area of boundary-breaking television seems to be, exclusively, which “real” sexual positions and accessories they can showcase on screen . . . now you know: this show hasn’t really cared about us for a few years now.

I kinda think they’re trying to tell us something, and it’s not “we love/cherish the lesbian community.”

This isn’t how you “protect” your relationship with the lesbian community. This is how you use us and how you’ll lose us.

Hiring a (Razzie Award nominated) lesbian with a storied history of upsetting the lesbian community to put on a show about lesbians isn’t enough. And dismissing the concerns of its fan base as just the nature of the lesbian-show beast feels sexist, especially for a network so revered for its dedication to women’s stories.

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All my mentors/colleagues/friends/stuffed animals told me that letting all this happen without writing a post about it would set a precedent none of us could afford. And really, after how hard I’ve worked for so long I shouldn’t just “bend over and take it.” Despite a plethora of similar stories circulating the lesbian media universe, nobody says anything. It’s tacky. Nobody wants to be accused of eating their own, even when you’ve just been eaten by your own.

I was scared and that fear, I realized, is what they were counting on. They are big. We are little. At least ~5 commenters will remind me that “it’s just a show” or call me “butthurt.”

See, the only story Ilene Chaiken is really telling at this point is how to opportunistically exploit the lesbian community while cultivating an undeserved title of ‘trailblazer’ and shutting down dissent.

And that’s why I’m writing this at all. Because I think that story deserves a recap, too.


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Profile photo of Riese

Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1794 articles for us.

214 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    feelings about this post:
    – IFC sounds like a narcissistic sociopath who should not have the power that she does
    – you don’t sound butthurt, it sounds like autostraddle was 100% used and ripped off
    – is there anything the average autoreader can do to make this situation suck less? strongly worded letters to IFC/Showtime? boycotting TRLW? buying more stickers?
    i’m seriously sorry that things happened this way for you guys.

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      Seconded/thirded etc.

      I have a lot of free time coming up. Maybe a demo outside her house screaming a tailored version of the L-Word theme at 2am?

      We’re girls in tight boyshorts
      Whose silence can’t be bought
      Go fuck yourself
      and your sycophant cohorts

      I’d go on, but even the tune of that song makes me a little bit sick in the mouth.

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      Fantastic post! I’d like to act, too. IFC’s indifference toward non-IFC-sycophant lesbians has apparently turned pathological.

      I’m REALLY disappointed in Showtime saying how important the LGBTQ community is while they’re busily exploiting AS. How do we hold Showtime accountable? Do you know who made the call to pull the credit?

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        ETA LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN.

        I think we bombard Showtime with communications on this issue until they have to do something. PUBLIC OUTCRY. That’s what I think we should do.

        I’ve never done anything like that before, do any of you have experience with it?

        10880 Wilshire Blvd
        Ste 1600
        Los Angeles, CA 90024

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          If you’re going to write – and I am – I’d suggest asking questions like what prompted the decision to go out of their way to remove Autostraddle’s credit and who made the decision to do it. And ask for a response. Corporations often just tally complaints/compliments (“200 people wrote to complain about TRLW”). Questions require a human to respond which costs a company money. They don’t like that.

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          Getting right on this, would it be ethical to write several letters using different names?
          Also, You might want to make a post on this, not everyone reads the comments sometimes.

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          wait could we do some sort of online petition then send it in to showtime? i’d undertake the duty of writing it all up but don’t think i’d be able to adequately explain everything. what would be proposed? AS & Robin mentioned in the next episode or something? i don’t know if it would work but it might be worth a shot, if a bunch of AS readers could sign it we might not seem so small. there’s loads of free online petition hosting sites…
          http://www.petitiononline.com/
          we could even just threaten to boycott show (or look into further legal action as you had that in the contract?) if no recognition is given…though i understand you want to maintain good relations.

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      i don’t think there’s any point in boycotting the show — but i might just be saying that b/c i don’t want to hurt any of our friends or the other honest people that are on the show or worked for it…

      writing showtime, however, is probably a very good idea! maybe there’s room to fix it, or at least not to pick up another IFC project?

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      I will gladly help to rectify this atrocious situation in whatever way I can. Just say the word. Autostraddle deserves so much more recognition for all the fantastic things you guys do, produce, etc. If we can help at all, tell us!

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    being a lesbian doesnt automatically make you not a douchebag, though wed love to think that. its just that when someone makes a minority look bad they generalize it to everyone thus creating a giant pile of fail that no one wants to take responsibility for. it almost seems easier to get a minority group sucked in by ideas that zomg visibility zomg while someone in charge exploits away and profits.

    autostraddle= not giant pile of fail

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    Fuck her and all the braindead, sycophant famewhores she leans on for support.

    Ilene Chaiken, you’re an evil lesbian overlord, and when you’ve burned all your bridges and have nothing left to do other than wallow in the lonely, dank shallows of obsolescence and failure, I hope the sound of all the little people turning their backs on you haunts you to the grave.

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    I agree with everything you said here. I am so truly upset that Shotime and Ilene screwed over such an important, growing website as Autostraddle.

    I know because of this, I’ll stop watching this awful show.
    I only watched it because it was about lesbians, and I thought it was hilariously awful. Now, it just leaves too bad a taste in my mouth.

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    This is amazing. Approximately 55 tabs open at this point, reading everything you’ve cited. Thank you for being so brave. But Riese, what do we do about this? In the meantime, I’ll remove TLW from my Netflix queue and pretend it was never there in the first place.

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      ETA: LET’S START A LETTER WRITING/PETITION CAMPAIGN SITUATION, YEAH?!!

      that’s a good question and I don’t know the answer. I’ve always preferred to take the high road here — and also try to protect my relationship with Showtime — I’ve never told anyone to pirate the show and I’ve never told anyone not to watch it. Yeah, I’ve said a lot of angry stuff, but I’ve never encouraged anyone to turn off the television, at least that I can remember.

      to be honest i don’t know! i’m open to suggestions — i don’t know if the season has been edited already but there actually is other stuff they filmed involving AS people, though I imagine if they intended to use that footage it would’ve already come up… just saying there could be an opp in a future episode

      I’ll keep recapping b/c i hate myself and it’s good for traffic, and when the season ends, I’ll participate in any kind of effort encouraging showtime not to pick up a third season (or, if they do, to hire a different show runner).

      at this point, we’re friends with jill & nikki, jess is friends with tracy & stamie, and other assorted team members are good friends with romi, kelsey, claire and francine. and these girls put a lot on the line to be on this show and i think it’s important to support them. it’s not their fault that ilene is an asshole, you know? I’M CONFLICTED.

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        I understand that it’s good for traffic, but I mean, is it really worth the time/effort to cover or recap the show after all this? Is it worthy?

        Like others here I found the recaps funny even though I don’t have an interest in this type of show to begin with (don’t watch it). However, your hilarious coverage probably does encourage viewers to watch the train wreck.

        Tough call – good luck with this.

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          Also, I should add that this is whole issue is complicated by AS’s personal connections with those involved with the show and Showtime – it’s not black and white.

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          well, yes, there are problems like “i hate it” but also i guess… for people who don’t live in a gay area or have gay friends and really like TV a lot (i really like GREAT tv, but i hate tv in general and never watch reality series) for whom this show really matters, i feel like this is a place where it can make more sense to them. or mean something. also, anyone who comes here for that and likes the humor and doesn’t mind that i bitch constantly is definitely our target audience.

          i think also i feel oddly indebted because i wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the l word recaps i used to do… i guess ultimately i’m a big believer in karma. that’s partially why i never thought i’d write something like this, because i thought something would bite her in the ass before i did, yet this show was magically renewed and this time, naked.

          i get/got a lot of emails from fans and also from people close to various cast members and cast members themselves thanking me for doing the recaps, and two from unexpected people that were really meaningful to me.

          on saturday when i’m writing the recap i will undoubtedly change my mind and get depressed and want to quit though, like i do every time. b/c i always reach a point where i just want to scream THIS IS SO FUCKING TERRIBLE. not the people — my friends and i are surely just as ridiculous and dramatic — just how it’s made and put together. and then i feel insulted, llike that someone would think this is worthy of our attention. i feel like i keep typing words in this comment box

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            yeah, sigh.

            It’s the same old conundrum: inherently, you want to support the few projects that do exist within the community, but at the same time, be able to encourage/demand a higher standard.

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            can you use the situation of your assorted closeness with the cast members to your advantage? b/c i’m sure many of them agree with you re: ifc in general and especially this legal tangle involved credit/mentions. especially francine – b/c she was there and it was her shoot and she loves you guys, robin, etc.

            if there was any way you could contact the people involved in the show, behind the scenes, at showtime, etc that you personally know and that personally would get behind this, i feel like that would make more of an impact.

            of course they have personal feelings and legal contracts and a whole bunch of other stuff, i’m sure, but it’s an idea?

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        I think you’re doing the best you can, all things considered. You and everyone on this site do so much for so many people out there, and I think a lot of us can understand/relate to/appreciate the “this is my livelihood and I have to do what I have to do” aspect of the recaps. Plus its not as if you are hiding your distaste for the show, and they are brilliantly written.

        I’ve always been a fan of taking the high road and I think you have a great approach. When the show ends I’ll be right there with you in encouraging Showtime to end this madness. So, as always, YOU DO YOU.

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        Maybe instead/in addition to writing to Showtime, AS could tell other blogs/magazines/media about it? The “lesbian drama” aspect of the story probably won’t interest non-lesbian websites and magazines, but the way Showtime illegally refused to do their part w/r/t a written business contract may interest TV/entertainment-focused media outlets and they’ll spread the word about it.

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        to be completely honest i only watch the show now because of the recaps. I read some season one recap and decided to go back and watch the show online (I have a paid subscription to showtime, but they haven’t aired reruns). Hilarious, blew my mind! Then I watched it without the recap and ended up just buying underwear on amazon (is there subliminal messaging on this show?). I only watched season 2 because of the recap and I probably wont go on if you decide not to do recaps.

        Hold your recaps against them!

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    Thank you for telling us this story, riese. Really. Even not having been at all involved with the Autostraddle photoshoot debacle of exploitation—or personally screwed over by Ilene Chaiken in any other substantive, material way—it was somehow really cathartic to read it. And to get confirmation that she really probably is every bit the uncaring, self-serving, throw-your-community-under-the-bus kind of person she has acted like throughout the existence of TLW franchise.

    Maybe it sounds a lot stupider when said by someone without a business stake in her actions, but I’ve felt totally disgusted and betrayed by her decisions. As a demographic-with-aspirations-of-community we deserve better, we are capable of better, and YOU ALL are part of what is making it better.

    Keep it up. For what it’s worth, I read this site all day long and I have not watched a single frame of an Ilene Chaiken Production since The L Word finale. You are the future!

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    I’d also like to point out from the AE interview with IFC:

    AE: Who would you say is the ideal audience for this show? A lot of the LGBT community didn’t really feel like it was a show for them.
    IC: I don’t know about the community. I don’t know who the community is who we’re talking about.

    and then in the very next question…

    AE: You mentioned Season 2 would be more representative. The cast seems to be much more diverse this year. Was that one of your goals in looking at casting?
    IC: […] But it’s much more exciting to me to find people who have something to say about different aspects of our community and represent it.

    Oh, so you have heard of us! -_-

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    DAMN.

    You better say that girl

    *waves fan*
    *plays tambourine*

    Money makes the world go ’round. That bitch is SPINNING.

    AS will get its proper recognition one day. Best believe. You’re inspiring too many of us to infiltrate the spaces that try to run us out. You’ve inspired me and I’m sure you’ve inspired others.
    Keep on keeping on.

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    Ugh, this really irks me. #understatementoftheweek I can’t believe that Showtime can really get away with completely ignoring your legally-binding contract, but from what you’ve previously written about IFC (the F is muy importante), I am not at all surprised.

    Out of curiosity – how has Francine reacted to the obvious omission?

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    First of all, you have every right to be ‘butthurt’ of a show. You are in the right. they effed up. That being said, it is now a matter of what you are going to do about it. “There is no crying in Baseball.” Have truer words been spoken? I find that if you just hold your guns, stick with it legally, be a nuisance, be obnoxious, be the proverbial thorn in IFCs side you can get what you want. I have been through the courts (not a criminal, just a really long story) as an underdog and I found that as long as you hold your guns and not cave no matter what, no matter how tiring, annoying it is, generally, you can win. It is just a HUGE commitment both in emotion and money. I wish you luck and send you good thoughts.

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    I believe you can watch IFC change physically from a living, breathing person into a Hollywood suit on the DVD bonus features of either season 1 or 2…then continue to morph throughout the late 2000s. F*** your face Ilene Chaiken, you harpy.

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        ifc is just one letter from kfc and I keep like double checking like, whoa, Ilene Fried Chicken whaaat? or like Sarah Palin’s new Winning the Future with wtf.

        Ilene Fried Chicken Winning the Future what?!

        acronyms get me.

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            “CRISPAY!” and “This taste like poopy shit,” are still two of my favorite lines of tv. Too bad it all went downhill from there.

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          t shirt idea : dana eating at an I.F.C. (ilean fried chaiken, the sign is visible from the window, dana is sitting by a window) and she’s exclaiming how crispay her chicken is.

          Somewhere there is a banner that reads “Ilean Fried Chaikens (letters I,F,C highlighter in a different color), serving up (blank) since 1988″

          im unsure of what to put in that blank, so many possibilities. but you guys should make a tshirt to raise funds.

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    If there had been any financial consideration in your arrangement I would have written about how you should have sued. But there weren’t, and it probably wasn’t worth the legal fees to litigate it out. Still, maybe that’s the only way they’ll learn that just because they are a large entity they can’t escape their contractual obligations…

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          you should go to a lawyer. the profession is in tatters and there are a lot of bright, hungry people out there anxious to be given a chance. in a suit like this you could get somebody to represent you for a 1/3 of what you recover (or don’t – they’d have to be willing to take the chance). but consider getting somebody. at least to write a threatening letter, to get Showtime to sit up and move their asses.

          whose footage was it? you referred to it as “our footage,” but then what were the magical elves doing? if it was yours then obviously the right to use it would be sufficient consideration and you could probably sue to enjoin them from using it in the future without crediting autostraddle for it. you also sell the calendars, so the ladies’ likenesses and the behind the scenes stuff you could (?) argue are an economic value in and of themselves, which you negotiated a contract with Showtime to use in exchange for the promised publicity. Showtime of course would say the 0.0000005 in the credits was the “identification of the owner’s trademark” you asked for, but it sounds like you only signed a release form and there was no integrated agreement, in which case you could admit all the stuff beforehand: that AS thought it was going to get something ON AIR. The tapes they sent w/out autostraddle on them sound like an anticipatory breach anyway. and you never agreed to modify.

          and I think, dear Riese, that your concerns about your friends not eating or somehow suffering b/c you assert yourself are unfounded. what you say is the point: Showtime and TRLW are a business, they like their money and they aren’t going to pull the show just because the little autostraddle that could writes a letter, or hires a lawyer. it’s really kind hearted of you to worry, but it’s not going to go down like that. and even if they gave you your start, they don’t own you, you know? stand up for yourself.

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            thank you for your suggestions, please trust me when i say that if these avenues were potentially worth my extremely limited time, they would’ve been explored, we’ve spoken with lawyers and other professionals, Robin had a lawyer, and [long explanation] this is where we are. it’s even more fucked that people would look for a way to fuck you beyond recourse, which is what’s happening. i love you guys and your suport, but facing reality isn’t not standing up for myself and my evaluation of my reality and the reality of this situation should be trusted by y’all as well. ok? i love you guys! SO MUCH LOVE

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    My first thought is I <3 Autostraddle and I want to do something…!

    But is there anything we can do?

    So far my only idea would be pulling together some sort of solidarity petition which I am not sure would really work….

    More ideas? Or are ya'll handing this and don't need any extra "help"?

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    I remember when I first saw TLW (first season) and felt validated in how I felt. Now I am just disappointed in how it all turned out.

    This was an important article that needed to be written, if only because d-bags shouldn’t be allowed to continue without some repercussions and criticism.

    Keep on writing!

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    Honestly, the best thing you could do would be to try to kick up as much of a stink as you can. Letter writing, emailing, sending autostraddle stickers– this is the kind of stuff that gets news outlets to notice this kind of story and Showtime to acknowledge their “mistake” (as you know they would characterize it). Litigation is too expensive, but if you got everyone on the site to sign a petition or something of that sort then it would have momentum. The more ridiculous/noticeable the better.

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    *wiping sweat off brow* that was a lot of reading (for a good cause), I had no idea Ilene was so exploitative. sad for her (the community will remember all her bullshit)

    sorry she took advantage of autostaddle while it was scared and disoriented by all of the magic those elves were pumping out. you let them know that no one puts baby in a corner!

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    i know it’s not the easiest thing to do, but really suing them is the only thing that will make them think twice about doing this again. money is the only thing that talks. while you didn’t make an arragment to be paid, credit and exposure for the work you did and let them use is WORTH MONEY. it doesn’t matter that it’s not easy to figure out how much money. you need to find an attorney, an attorney friend, someone who sue showtime for you, because if they use your footage and don’t credit you, you have lost the exposure that would bring poeple/page views to the site and people to robin, and that loss is worth money that they should have to pay you. be obnoxious about that. you worked so hard to ask for donations, to rely on the people supporting the site to keep it running and here is giant corporation that you contracted with that OWES YOU SOMETHING VALUABLE. you have to force them to give it you. if not in the form of credit, which would have been the easier thing for them, then in form of the money you lost from not getting the credit.

    my feeling is you can write all the letters you want, but the people who make these kinds of decisions only care if you speak their language. which is contracts, money, etc. get what you were promised. you deserve it.

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        Attorneys generally take plaintiffs cases for free or fora small retainer, then get a percentage of what you win. You don’t win, they don’t get paid. It’s not too hard to start a lawsuit.

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      YES. I was thinking exactly this and did a bit of poking around the web, but can’t seem to find any information about how much it would cost to file suit for breach of contract in California. I am Canadian, and have never been in this position, so my knowledge is, well, zero. But near as I can figure, it’s the cost of hiring a lawyer that is the expensive part, but maybe there’s a way around that?

      Anyways, this may not help much, and this guy is in San Diego, not LA, but it seems to have some decent information and he will give free advice from his website it seems:
      http://sandiegolegaloffice.com/2011/05/suing-for-breach-of-contract/

      I know you don’t want to risk your relationship with showtime though, which I guess makes suing them tricky…

      Maybe Judge Judy will handle your case thus saving you the cost of a lawyer! :)

      In any case, we love and support you Riese and Autostraddle!
      Let the letter-writing begin.

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    I always wondered why she was Ilene fucking Chaiken. And now I know. (To think that I bought the all the seasons of that stupid show…I couldn’t even bring myself to watch season 6 through.)
    IFC will never get any of my money ever again.

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    Okay, so totally irrelevant to the issue at hand,

    but do I sense an allusion to Michael Jackson in the title? Because that’s a total win.

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    I always felt a little pathetic about how “hurt” I felt by the various ways in which The L Word series betrayed me/its viewers. How could I possibly care so much about a fucking tv show? I felt such a personal attachment to the series and its characters (classic watched-it-and-immediately-realized-I-was-gay story), so when it let me down in the multitude of ways Riese cited, it truly felt like a huge betrayal. But to totally write off IFC because of this didn’t seem totally right.

    NOW IT DOES. I disagree with her values, business ethics, rampant self-promotion, and view of the lesbian community (does it or does it not exist, IFC?). The bad more than outweighs the good here, especially with respect to that which she is personally responsible (a lot less of the good than she claims).

    In conclusion, FUCK IFC. Like Riese said – she isn’t the only person putting lesbians on TV. We don’t need her (mis)representing us (or not representing us at all) anymore.

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    Holy shit Riese. I am so sorry you and AS had to go through all of this bullshit. I absolutely want to help you guys and just tell us what to do, what the plan is, and let’s organise!

    As a lawyer who works with freedom of speech, I have great faith that telling stories that deserve to be told has great power, so I think that publicising this is the first step to go.

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    I have always preferred the phrase gay communities to community because it seems to make more sense to me. But due to the fact that IFC doesn’t seem ” to know who the community is who we’re talking about”, looks like she should be introduced to the Autostraddle community.

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    I think you still underestimate (yes, seems impossible) her ego, maybe more like underestimating the ego and narcissism.

    You bring a lot of attention to her shows via recaps and articles, but…in your brilliant, entertaining, and very well articulated manner you expose her like no one else I have read. And you’ve done so for years. IMO she cannot stand it despite her public responses to criticism. Narcissism does not mean she is so in love with herself that the exposure or criticism is not without internal response.

    Like Kohut said: “Narcissistic rage is related to narcissist’s need for total control of their environment; includes “the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means….. with rage serving to restore a sense of safety and power by destroying that which had threatened the narcissist.”

    And: “Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury – a threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing,
    revenge.”

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      i keep thinking about this comment. you’re right. i mean if this situation is pathological, it would explain her disdain for any criticism and her willingness to alienate and fuck over her fans/colleagues/etc

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        Yeah, there is a tendency to think narcissistic rage only shows itself when, say, one with more power or importance in their world threatens a person with said disorder. Actually in my experience it is across the board and sometimes more often people with less power. Thus the “willingness to alienate and fuck over her fans/colleagues/etc.”

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    Seek legal advice. See if you can find a pro bono attorney or an attorney that will take it as a contingency fee. The press from the law suit should be worth it.

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        Riese and co-

        I would also suggest looking to see if any of the CA law schools have a clinic that would take your case, either an intellectual property clinic or a LGBT issues clinic. At the very least, they might be able to connect you with a private attorney who could help out. A lot of law school clinics are actually pretty hungry for cases. I know UCLA has a LGBT clinic.

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        I saw that Robin’s lawyer was involved. I assume they have thought about suing.

        As a civil lit attorney I will just say it costs sooo much to litigate. I know readers are like, just sue them! Well a cheap cheap ass retainer is like $5,000. Remember AS’s fundraiser? They can’t use all of that on retaining a lawyer.

        But anyway, the episode already aired? What a bunch of bullshit. They stalled and stalled. It would not have cost a lot of money to put in an identification of the photoshoot. Bullshit! Not at all comparable to, for example, a credit change on a movie poster. Sigh. In Hollywood and business, branding and credits are expensive and important and they just fucked AS of their brand.

        Well I feel that by now you’ve talked to lots of lawyers, but just so you know, I will contribute or advise some more if u like.

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          It is expensive to litigate, that’s why several people suggested a pro bono attorney or a contingency fee. Neither of these options would require Autostraddle to pay the legal fees. Also, law school clinics might be an option, as these would not charge a fee. Autostraddle might as well look into these options because it sounds like they might have a strong case and the damages they could recover from freaking showtime could be significant.

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            the last time we needed a lawyer it ended up costing me $4,000 and 5 mental breakdowns… and by “Autostraddle” it’s actually just me, I’d have to do all of this on top of what I already do… i mean the idea of a magical bro bono attorney or a law school clinic is great, but i’m with bizzle… in my experience and from what i’ve been advised by people who are older/wiser than me, it’s just not going to end up being worth it. unless they settle out of court to make it go away… i think after the last time we had a legal situation i said i’d never let something like that happen again (it wasn’t suing or being sued, it was something else entirely) but it was me/”us” vs. someone with unlimited legal resources… and it’s really fucking hard to get into something when the balance of resources is zero vs infinity. even if i find one, they’ve still got infinity. their choice of infinity. like they can just go on forever and ever and ever and none of it takes any skin off their back. it’s astounding. does that make sense? maybe i’m just being eeyore though… i love that you guys are wanting this and suggesting this though, i love you

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            Maybe host another fundraiser on the site and see how much we can raise to cover legal fees? Everyone is eager to do something and this is something we can do!

            AS deserves the credit for this, why is Showtime being so strong-willed about it?!

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            I noticed somebody suggested in this thread having a lawyer for defensive purposes e.g. looking at the contract being drawn up stage, and for those purposes looking into whether there is a suitable law school clinic or pro bono lawyers for the arts in LA may still be worth your while.

            I know the NY Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts basically sends a bulletin listing possible pro bono cases like “draw up a contract for a photographer,” etc around various law firms in Manhattan for junior associates to pick up as pro bono work. I don’t know if the equivalent happens in LA, but maybe worth checking. Also looking for a law school IP (or maybe LGBT) clinic in LA is a great suggestion made above, since the whole point of the clinics is to get the students doing some actual legal work like drafting contracts, etc.

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            thank you for all this ! but we’re not pursuing this legally for a number of reasons. please respect that when i tell you we’ve looked into these avenues, we’ve looked into these avenues. love you !

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    A) This entire time, I thought that “IFC” stood for “Independent Film Channel.” Needless to say, I was so confused what exactly Autostraddle’s beef was with indie cinema and what it had to do with terrible lesbian reality television. Finally, I get it. Ilene fucking Chaiken sucks. I have been preaching this mantra for YEARS. Bravo, Riese and the rest of Autostraddle, for your extraordinary courage. So happy I checked the “Investigative” box on the survey cuz Sherlock got nothin’ on this shit.

    B) I, uh, also have to admit that I was totes under the impression that “Magical Elves” was a term that the Autostraddle team came up with to describe the cute production henchmen from Showtime. Again, this goes without saying, I am NOT showbiz savvy. Glad to discover that Magical Elves DO exist, and do so independently of IFC and Showtime.

    Overall, learned a few new things today. Thank you for always providing an educational and rabble-rousing interweb experience. Gotta go buy a bullhorn now and figure out IFC’s address. (Kidding. Sort of.)

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      For me it’s because I thought that I connected so much with the show as a part of coming out. I related my life to their lives and it was validating that other people felt these things to and now it feels like a lie.

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    Riese! You know how much I heart you guys. And we have all been through so much together for all the IFC years.

    The IFC ego is something that we over at The L Word Online website have had to deal with for over 7yrs now. She screwed us in so many different ways…I could write a book about all the things she’s done to us over the years. And all the time all we wanted to do was HELP her and her show.

    At the height of The L Word we travelled all the way to Vancouver in the hopes of getting a behind the scenes visit, interviews etc (that other shows do for fan sites all the time), only to get there and be met by IFC and Rose Lam and be bullied into giving them information about where we were getting our spoilers from amongst other things. In return we received nothing.

    So I know alllll about how IFC operates.

    If its screwable, IFC will be there.

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      OZ HELLO MY L WORD COMPATRIOT! WITHOUT WHOM I WOULD NOT BE HERE

      I KNOW RIGHT? Your story and others like it was why I was really nervous about this and wanted to be sure we had everything in order to legally bind her to putting our name on the screen for 2.5 seconds. Because I knew that there was no limit to how petty/ridiculous/insane/illogical things could get. And then it was so fucking frustrating to have it turn out that there was just literally no way to get past this woman’s wall of terror.

      Before I wrote for The L Word Online I was constantly on the site reading stuff and looking at photos and becoming increasingly obsessed with shane and it was through TLWO that I found out about The Planet podcast which got me REALLY into the show — I don’t think I ever once went to the showtime website, actually. Which is just to say that it’s really fucking ridiculous how much contempt and disregard she has for the people who actually kept people interested in the show all these years. It’s obnoxious. As [redacted RLW cast member] reminded me today — ‘karma is a bitch.’ and i think IFC’s running low on that.

      (also that would be a really funny book — “ilene chaiken: fucking lesbians on-screen and off: true stories”)

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        Theres a number one thing about IFC that is best to always remember; if you try to succeed off of something SHE (supposedly) has created, she will CRUSH YOU.
        Well she will attempt to.

        She really screwed us up the ass on several occasions, so I wasnt surprised to hear about what happened to you guys. Im just surprised she still has any power left…

        And Riese, anytime you guys wanna get together with us to write that book, let us know ;)

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    YES YES YES RIESE YOU ARE SO RIGHT. Butthurt? No. You have every damn right to be pissed. She’s full of shit, I’m writing her hate mail right now. It’s ridic how she can get away with completely ignoring that.
    UGH.

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    I will absolutely join this letter writing campaign because I hate Ilene Chaiken to the same degree that I love this website. I also did a google search for “I hate Ilene Chaiken” and there were nearly 200 sites. Shockingly, though, my second search, “Ilene Chaiken is Voldemort” produced no results.

    What really gets me is that Ilene Chaiken isn’t just an irritating, pretentious megalomaniac, but an irritating, pretentious megalomaniac who has successfully co-opted the representation of a vulnerable minority.

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    This is so disappointing. I always took it for granted that IC was somewhat of a hero. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was a baby lesbian all meek and terrified, I was thrilled to become acquainted with characters like those of The L Word who are powerful women with social and successful lifestyles. The L Word has helped thousands of young women including myself realize that being a gay woman doesn’t mean you can’t become just as strong, fashionable, and successful as the the characters in this show.
    It makes me sad to hear that it’s director is just another narcissistic cooperate douche bag.

    Surely she realizes how much web-space you’ve dedicated to TRLW? It’s seems like every other day I check in and there’s another TRLW update in the featured articles. And she can’t even return the favor by giving you credit for your own damn footage?

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    You produce a lot of good content; why waste resources for a product which clearly does not support your community? It was one thing to see where it went for a season. But now we know. In my opinion, continued coverage implies consent. Consent to be screwed out of deserved recognition and consent to be poorly represented as a community.

    I get that it’s not black and white. I can separate my feelings about this show from the people portrayed in it. Outside of the TV frame, anything I see from (most of) the cast members is great. They are funny, hot ladies. And I really appreciated the recaps here, which focused more on making fun of the situation rather than personal attacks on cast members. But as funny as the recaps were, it’s not enough for me to follow the show anymore. If you don’t want future IFC projects, then you have to stop supporting IFC projects.

    Riese, you mentioned that covering this show increased traffic, which would lead to increased site income. Is there a ‘$ generated per site visit or reader’ figure? Can you estimate how much you would make covering this show? I realize AS recently had a fundraising drive, but I would gladly support a new drive to make up the difference and stop highlighting the show. If you feel any guilt, double the target and donate half of the raised funds to a LGBT charity.

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      ^^I really agree with this – the point I was trying to make above but much better said!

      These shows survive because of viewership, and I will reiterate that I believe the recaps, no matter how snarky, may help obtain viewers (even if they just want to laugh at it along with you). I know people who get together to watch this just because they feel it’s their only option, which makes me sad.

      Riese – are there other ways for you to show support for the cast members and others you know involved with the show/network without supporting the show itself (ie watching it)?

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    Reading this was akin to the experience of reading that much-discussed Vanity Fair article about Sarah Palin, where it was revealed, through exclusive interviews with McCain campaign staffers, how much of a sociopathic, opportunistic narcissist she truly is. Like I knew IFC was a horrid creature, I just didn’t realize the extent of her horridness. Enlightening, but also chilling…

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    PREACH!! This is insane, I commend you whole heartedly for writing this. I once was an L Word fan, but after the 2nd season I was over it. And if it wasn’t for Autostraddle I would not even know of The Real L Word…so fuck Ilene. I do think we should boycott, not only because of the huge dick move she pulled, but for the fact that the show does nothing to promote the lesbian community…if anything it degrades it. The last thing the gay/lesbian community needs is more homophobic ammunition, and this show is just that.

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    Riese, it may be that IFC will never take the opportunity to change and grow and learn to love; that would be nice if it was possible! It is kind of sad to have such a visible lady like her be so cold and dark.
    But what YOU are doing is AWESOME: you are helping create the queer community you want to be part of by telling the truth, openly seeking the most human way through this ugly situation. I applaud your standing up and being true.
    One more thing: you ladies at AS *could* write a damn good sitch-com-drama about lesbian life. Now wouldn’t that be somethin’? Offer your showtimers a new step in lesbo TV that the community actually digs because it creates positive culture! I think we’d eat it up.

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        yes, we tried to sell a TV show three years ago that carly and i wrote – a lesbian sitcom. we even had some minor-league talent attached to it. unfortunately nothing is as easy as it seems from the outside.

        Also what she said — The Nicest Thing — they also have a concept for a tv show as well. The Nicest Thing is better than any lesbian movie I’ve seen recently, and the show would be funnier than anything I’ve seen. But… idk!

        anyhow thank you for the compliments!

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    Are there no lawyers in LA who read AS? If there are now is the time to step up. I am in Australia so I am not entirely familiar with the legality in LA however if you would like me to go over the contract feel free to email it over (jess_008@yahoo.com)
    If all else fails kick up the biggest shit storm you possibly can.

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    You need to get in contact with a pro bono lawyer or a lawyer who will take a contingency fee. Showtime is a business and the only language of business is money. You have to hit them where it actually hurts for them to listen.

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    So many thoughts and feelings!!

    I understand why you feel that it’s necessary to continue the recaps but I don’t think that I’m alone in thinking that it’ll be a happy day when I see on the front page that AS and TRLW have broken up for good.

    In my opinion the show is disgusting and horrifically exploitative.

    I feel about this the same way that I felt about working for Walmart. It was the worst thing that I’d ever had to do in my life, but necessary because I needed the pay check. And the best day was the day I could walk away knowing that I didn’t need them anymore.

    So, I guess I’ve got your back on this one. It seems like all the other mos on the site agree. You do you, Riese, we ain’t going nowheres.

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    “as the only producer in all of history to consistently have her own photograph taken with the yearly cast promo shots, she’s made this fact difficult to ignore.” I have seen this commented on before by others with knowledge of the business and press kits and such. She looks so fucking smug in those press photos too, like she needs a good slap across the face.

    I think Ilene Chaiken is horrible. I have written so much shit on other websites (AfterEllen and Television Without Pity, for starters) about how awful I think that woman is, and you’ve only confirmed it more. She is a woman who so CLEARLY thinks she is the smartest one in the room when she so CLEARLY is not. Why else did she direct episodes of the L Word instead of letting experienced, talented directors handle it? You could tell which episodes she directed without looking at the credits: which episode looked like a first year film school project with distracting shots, unnecessary “artsiness” that served no actual purpose, strange camera angles like we were in a dream sequence, etc.? Same for writing. You could tell which episodes she wrote because people would just have these long conversations about things in the most pedantic of terms and it felt neverending and it was a textbook example of TELLING instead of SHOWING.

    I honestly still hold a little resentment for Ilene Fucking Chaiken. I have had zero dealings with her, Showtime, etc. etc. Purely as a viewer, I consider her to be the one person who fucked up the best lesbian television show that could’ve been. I think the L Word had a phenomenal cast, a big budget, a supportive network and good characters (which Ilene did not create, fucking liar) and she just ran it all into the ground. There was a point in season three where I almost dreaded watching the new L Word episode, I felt like I had to see it through and pray it got better. But Ilene and that girl from the worst band ever Betty (EZ Girl) were writing episodes and had no business doing it and that shit was just awful. And they thought the more depressing and weird the show got, the more deep and artful it seemed. They filled the show with these horrible stereotypes and made basically all the male characters total assholes (WTF?) and just created a show I was gravely disappointed in and even embarrassed that it was representing me. The show was a trainwreck and IFC refused to admit anything wrong, like “Hey! Let’s kill this lovable character in a really slow, agonizing horrible death devoid of any greater meaning, commentary or dramatic purpose. Let’s just like, make everyone wanna curl into the fetal position and cry after each episode!” We all know season six was Ilene’s audition for her bullshit The Farm idea (worst idea ever) but she still pretends that wasn’t the case. I could go on and on, quite frankly, but either the woman is deluded or thinks we’re stupid.

    I have said it before and I will say it again: The L Word was bad enough. I am never supporting an IFC project ever again. There HAS to be other lesbian producers out there in the world with, frankly, more talent and better judgment, and I’d like to hear from them. I know what I’m getting with Ilene and it’s bad enough that I’m more than willing to roll the dice on someone new. We don’t need IFC monopolizing lesbian entertainment just because she was the first and for a time the only. She sucks.

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    I am acually not mad about Dana dieing because people need to know that while there are women who survive breast cancer lesbians have higher rates of late stage breast cancer and death from breast cancer. Alarming numbers.

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    i have always wanted to do any work to do with films. Until i read reviews of movies on Ae and Autostraddle. the gay community is wonderfully articulate, and i realized that we as a community would dissect all the work because there was so little out there. I realized that queer films arent dismissed as bad lets watch another one, its the entire community that is lumped in and seen in a singular often negative light. I knew that if i where to do anything it was to be something worthwhile and truly insightful because i didnt want to be contributing to more misinformation. That is what makes Ilene Chaiken’s work all the more painful. She knows all this and is in a position to do incredible work but we are all left with a bitter taste in our mouths and a profound feeling of hopelessnes. Anyway, Riese and your wonderful crew please know that you have created a voice for yourselves that reaches a lot of people and know that your readers and i will help in anyway we can.

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    Please do figure out the $ figure for what the recaps generate. I would commit to donations to aid you in boycotting this heinous trash of a show. I am totally serious here. Please let me/us know. Perhaps this would be a really great fundraising platform.

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    I haven’t read through all the comments, but here’s another take: it makes more financial sense to keep promoting the show and related events like you’re it’s #1 fan. I hope you keep writing funny recaps, criticism, etc. You bring a genuinely funny and sober perspective to the show. You see through BS editing and BS people and actually call these things out. The quality of your coverage brings traffic to your site and will open up future opportunities for you. Also, the show does do something good by putting openly gay people on TV, and as a minority, it is good to see gay minorities on TV! I guess what I am trying to say is I hope you keep doing what you’re doing.

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    Is there a way we could express our collective dismay for Showtime/Chaiken and overwhelming support for Autostraddle/Robin all at once? Letter writing is great, but consumer dollars speak volumes. I’d be willing to funnel the cost of a Showtime subscription into an AS legal fund if it would help – assuming you all were even interested in taking any kind of legal action.

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    You know Riese. I rarely comment and I feel weird doing it now but I read Autostraddle EVERY FUCKING DAY. Every article, the tumblr, and all the comments. I know that may sound weird but I due to financial reasons beyond my control I had to leave school and leave my postion in my schools queer group. I lost my community and I sit here everyday reading this site and feeling like somewhere out there I have a community of people who feel the same thing about the injustices we go through, who like the same tv and music, and who care about things in the world. I never thought I would be emotionally invested in the wellbeing of a website and its creators/contributors but I am. And I certainly never thought that a website’s wellbeing could make me so fucking angry when threatened.

    When I was coming out the L word was at its highest point and I really connected with some of the story lines. I have so many memories of conversations where people mentioned characters being relevant to our lives personally. It was kind of a big deal. I am so fucking mad that she would do this. I know it doesn’t actually doesn’t affect me in real life but with everything that she as a lesbian herself knows we go through just to be accepted how could she act like this. If we don’t support each other then who the fuck is going to? I know that AS doesn’t know about what it means to be but shouldn’t collectively we all be there. She KNOWS who reads this. She knows what behavior like this sets a precedent for. I don’t even know what I think we should do but I feel better having read all 150 comments above mine and not feeling like I am going crazy for caring this much about a website.

    I fucking hate Ilene Chaiken.

    PS Today was the Philadelphia Dyke March so maybe that is actually what riled me up.

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    Good for you Riese. This is horseshit. I don’t understand the legalities of the contract agreed upon but shouldn’t you be compensated in some way shape or form for breach of terms? Is that a thing?

    Much like member katehinch (above), I hardly ever comment but I read/talk about this site daily and every time something like this fuckery goes down, I get irrationally protective of you and everyone else on staff. So. There’s not much you can do with the anger I’m projecting through the internet right now but just know it’s there on behalf of you and your site goddammit.

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    Realized Ilene Chaiken was a pretty nasty piece of work since the second season of LWord, and have not watched anything that she produces since then.

    She is – unfortunately -just a power hungry s.o.b. who managed to ruin what could have been such an amazing series (the L Word), if she had allowed creative people in our community to write the stories, instead of demanding they follow her piss poor ideas.

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    I’d like to join the chorus of righteous indignation, but, did you specifically indicate in your contract that your trademark had to be included as a screenshot of your website, or “lower third” identifying you? Because if not, they might be justified in claiming that your trademark was, in fact, included in the final edits (in the credits). It sucks but that’s why you need a lawyer, or some sort of entertainment agent, to go over your contracts *before* you sign them.

    I haven’t seen your contracts, but from what I read above, you might not win this round. But, you are smart, funny, and the future. So you will win, eventually. Just learn from this and make sure you are protected moving forward.

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    I too want the bumper sticker that says I’m with Autostraddle. But it was very frustrating to read this post as it does not appear that Autostraddle had legal counsel in drafting or negotiating the screen credit. I don’t know all of the facts and could be completely wrong, but based on the information in this post it appears to me that is very unlikely that Showtime had any legal obligation to provide Autostraddle with any kind of screen credit whatsoever. It’s complicated, but basically I don’t think the clause is legally sufficient.

    Like many other commenters, I also recommend that Autostraddle consult with a lawyer. But I am thinking defense not offense. There are other issues going on here that raise some red flags. More generally, I worry about Autostraddle’s apparent lack of a legal advisor. What about running a follow-up to the “We Need Help” post from last month and asking for applications? Lawyers tend to be very specialized. Look for a transactional lawyer with experience in internet and entertainment law.

    Nothing in this comment is legal advice.

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      If IFC is a decent businesswoman, you’re probably right (I’m not a lawyer). It’s not about whether what they did is right or wrong; it’s about whether than can get away with it. Clearly they decided they could.

      It’s so calculatedly duplicitous it makes me want to warn the entire LGBTQ community not to work with IFC, Showtime or Magical Elves unless they can afford good entertainment lawyers, are willing to do only defensive business, and have the resources to sue if / when it becomes necessary. Because apparently these 3 companies have no problem going out of their way to screw over people they do business with.

      To anyone tempted to suggest it’s all IFC, I say bullshit – this level of f*ckery requires complicity from partners. And Showtime and Magical Elves are IFC’s partners in crime.

      Yesterday the AS tumblr linked this article. Magical Elves’ co-founder and TRLW co-producer Jane Lipsitz is sitting with IFC to explain how they don’t think what they’re doing with TRLW is “remotely” porn.

      I don’t watch the show but it makes me wonder what the entertainment press is seeing in the screeners to ask the question. I can totally see how co-producers of a show that can’t pull in viewers with storytelling would resort to selling sex and how a network would be thrilled to be able to peddle soft-core lesbian porn under the guise of reality TV. If that turns out to be true, it would be a whole new despicable low for the franchise and everyone associated with it – IFC, Showtime, and Magical Elves.

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        “I don’t watch the show but it makes me wonder what the entertainment press is seeing in the screeners to ask the question.”

        They’re seeing what everyone else who isn’t blind & a moron is seeing – it’s porn! The gratuitous shot to Romi’s bald vadge told everybody that.
        Porn by amateurs no less who have no control over how they’re being represented or manipulated although based on last season they should have had a clue. I’m sorry, I seem to recall Romi in particular being totally freaked out over the strapon scene in season 1. I guess getting signed up & paid as an actual cast member assuaged any shame or shred of dignity she had left. Obviously, the potential for fame, money & notoriety obviously outweighed the risks for them. A sad statement indeed.

        And are the Magical Elves all female? I work in the entertainment industry in Hollywood and I have a hard time believing all the camera people are female. If they’re not, as I suspect, that brings a whole new level of eew to the whole thing.

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    Wow- I am not going to lie, but I’ve been thinking that IC has been selling out fellow lesbians ever since the release of the Real L Word. Now this just confirms it for me. Definitely not going to support a franchise that looks out for #1 and does not give a shit about their own community.

    I wish you the best of luck with this battle, Riese. I hope something good comes out of it for you.

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    What about a small claims case? It would be something at least, would likely get the site some money for little money to file, and would likely get a verdict in the site’s favor. Can any lawyers comment on this? I am not in the law field so don’t know if this is even reasonable.

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      Riese is right. This is just one of those legal battles that will not be realistic. I didn’t want to sound mean either, but as she said, legally battling Showtime or IFC is going to take too much time, money, effort. It IS a fantasy in these circumstances. Spreading the word is probably more effective at this point. Riese and co are smart people. I assumed they looked at their contract. The article also mentioned that Robin’s lawyer was involved and robin also got fucked.

      This shit happened all the time in Hollywood. Also, @Arls, It didn’t sound like Magical Elves did it. Showtime or IFC prob have a final cut clause in their K with Magical Elves. Networks have final say. IFC prob influenced this outcome :(

      Riese; I used to work at a major network, I know a few things abt contracts and ent law. If you ever need an extra pair of eyes or a fifth, sixth, etc opinion, I am completely willing to donate my time. Laneia and Sarah should have my contact info.

      sidenote: I finally decided to try to register bizzle as a member name. Someone already has it. I suppose it’s my fault for not registering from the beginning, but really, I never see you comment alleged bizzle. Post or get off the pot! :)

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        bizzle, I agree that it doesn’t sound like Magical Elves did it. I have no reason to doubt that the people who worked on the shoot were just as magical as Riese said and the cuts Magical Elves handed over to Showtime were exactly as Riese said. I suspected from the beginning that they (IFC / Showtime / Magical Elves) exploited AS’s lack of experience / high-paid legal representation to take advantage of the AS photo shoot, quite possibly just because they could. Having the right hand change the work of the left hand is a tried and true way of skirting accountability.

        I keep bundling the three companies together because behavior this egregious requires complicity. Take the stereotype of a parent beating the hell out of the kids while another parent does nothing to stop it or remove the kids from the situation. The responsibility for the beatings is fully on the parent doing the beating. The other parent is still complicit or, if you prefer, an enabler. If you can’t get the behavior to stop, you remove yourself / people dependent on you. I know it’s not nearly that simple for an abused person irl; it IS that simple in business unless you’re just a profits prostitute.

        Magical Elves knew what they were getting into with IFC when they partnered with her. There were 6 seasons of TLW. “But…we didn’t think she’d be like that with us.” OK, that explains season one. It’s season two.

        This show purports to be representing lesbians and is aired by a network patting itself on the back for its relationship with the lesbian community, yet is produced by a woman who is contemptuous of that community. So far, everything can be explained away as the costs of mainstream acceptance / Hollywood narcissism / “reality tv isn’t real anyway”.

        But when a slice of Hollywood pseudo-reality escalates its game to go out of its way to screw over a vibrant piece of authentic lesbian / queer female community like Autostraddle then we have to decide if we’re ready to stop pretending the emperor is wearing clothes. It sounds like most people / lesbians choose to cower rather than stand up for themselves in the face of the IFC Hollywood lesbian borg. If standing behind Riese and insisting on accountability makes the emperor and her attendants uncomfortable, well, too bad. I’m going to choose Autostraddle over IFCborg / Magical Elves / Showtime every single time.

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          Hi Bonnie!

          I AM that bizzle. LOL. yeah … I don’t know who the officially registered bizzle is, as I’ve never seen a post by this official bizzle.

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    This is super disssapointing! I remember the photoshoot scene in the episode, and it looked really cool and fun. Autostraddle is such an awesome website and it would have been a great way to get the name out there for more people to enjoy. It sounds like Chaiken is exploiting the community more than supporting it!

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    honestly i think the best thing we could do from here would be to try to get this story as much media attention as possible, by telling other websites and publications about it.

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    Just wanted to say that I don’t believe the omission is necessarily related to Showtime. As a cable TV provider, they’ve got a great track record – currently producing 2 of my favourite shows: The United States of Tara and Nurse Jackie, both of which are predominantly run by women (good women)and very LGBT friendly in their storylines.

    I suspect it’s more to do with IFC or someone close to her in the organization.

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    When The L Word ended, I wrote the angriest note on Facebook as an open letter to Ilene Chaiken. Watching that show made me wonder if this is how it felt to be in an abusive relationship, because the sheer ridiculousness of it all was suffocating. I thought Chaiken was a hack, mainly because the show made me watch four story-lines that were almost direct copies of Queer As Folk story-lines (a lesbian carpenter for both Bette and Melanie! Lindsay and Tina both cheat on their women with men! Strangely familiar new stories, yay!) and now you’ve gone and confirmed it.

    *sigh*

    Like the others who’ve commented before me, I read this website everyday. It’s become my new Facebook. So anything that threatens it’s existence seriously gets my blood pumping. Now I have to go and get West Indian on someone’s ass. Good luck with whatever you decide to do, Riese, and in the end, karma is indeed a bitch and now, she’s officially angry.

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    Ugh. Riese, I am so sorry this happened to you, who has given her blood, sweat, tears, and intellectual energy to TLW for lo these many years, just so we could all die laughing every week.
    I have never watched an ep of TRLW, and I have never missed an AS recap. They always make my day, because they are f*ing brilliant. No need to pay Showtime a red cent.
    Whoever pegged IFC as a narssicistic sociopath NAILED IT.

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    So Betty should be cherished because”they represent an important movement in our community” but when it comes to being accountable to ‘our community’ she suddenly doesn’t know what the word means.

    I’m surprised at how much Chaiken gets away with from GLB media; aside from a few jabs at Betty, most sites/mags don’t delve into how fucked up she is. People defending her can’t seem to muster much more than ‘she isn’t much worse than many other shows’, as if that’s a badge of honor. I wish I could win awards and make a boatload of cash by ‘not being much worse than other people’.

    I also think GLB media dropped the ball on calling out the Max story. Yes, people mentioned that it was fucked, but it didn’t get half as much attention as Dana’s death or other continuity issues. We may have been annoyed by Betty, or sad that one of our favorite characters was tossed out with the trash, but The L Word’s trans story line further perpetuated transphobic stereotypes, and that crosses a different line. It wasn’t just irritating, it was oppressive.

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    You know, I’ve always wanted to ask someone who’s been fucked by Ilene Chaiken: Is it really true that she doesn’t need tools?

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    I love AS and I find the recaps hilarious. However, if everyone just stopped watching TRLW you would take Showtime and IFC down right where it hurts the most — the ratings. You take away viewership and then force them to reevaluate if a 3rd season is worth it.

    Showtime and IFC are only surviving because people are watching. Just turn off the TV guys. Save yourself an hour of horribly scripted “reality” TV and read a book, play with your dog or cat, get it on with your lady-friend … something, anything but watch this show.

    Best of luck Riese.

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      Your logic would work if actually you were counted in the evaluation of the ratings. As it stands, only the people that have a Nielsen box can change the reported ratings of a show.

      In this case, if you don’t want to support the show and everything/everybody associated with it, especially the ones who make a good profit out of it, you should cancel your SHO subscription, at least in the time period when the show is on the air.

      If you don’t watch it but keep your SHO subscription – and you are not a Nielsen family- well, then you might as well watch it, since you are not taken into account for the ratings either way.

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    AUTOSTRADDLE is KING/QUEEN and the big Cheese.
    Thank you for sharing the the EVILNESS and revengeful ways of the Chaiken. I think everyone should here about this therefore I will twatter, fb, and stumbleupon this article. Best believe I have a lot of social network Friends!!! Chaiken has not seen the wrath of Lesbians yet!!

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    thought (not legal advice)…contact your local or state bar association and run the situation past them. you may have legal recourse. and because you’re a small organization, you might be able to get pro bono representation. if not, there might be someone willing to work on a contingency fee (paid only if you get paid).

    it obviously wouldn’t fix the situation…that you didn’t get displayed…but you may be able to get damages that state that you must be listed in one of the upcoming shows.

    again, not legal advice and not promising any results…but worth looking around to see what’s out there.

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    bravo riese!

    as someone who has a little experience of her own recapping ifc’s “work” (and subsequent wrath,) i can’t tell you how much i appreciated reading this post. after working in hollywood for over a decade, i’ve learned that those in positions of power don’t take kindly to any type of public criticism.

    taking the road of integrity isn’t always easy, but it sure as hell feels better in the morning.

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