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December 12, 2006


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I, too, saw Network and Miller's Crossing for the first time very recently (i.e., a little under a year ago). And I, too, have no excuse.

My short answer is that works that are derivative have no seminal force behind them apart from their source materials. To use a very lowbrow and cartoon example, despite being based on westerns, sci-fi puls novels, Errol Flynn movies and The Hidden Fortress, Star Wars isn't derivative, because brings its own style and sensibility to the table. It builds upon these previous works and makes its own world (so much to the point where most sci-fi action movies that have come to the scene since 1977 have been derivative of Star Wars, not derivative of the parts Star Wars was built from).


For the record, Studio 60 also does its share of pilfering from a wonderful movie with Peter O'Toole and Mark Linn-Baker called My Favorite Year which recreates a Sid Caeser-style show from the 50s--the whole inability to tell the joke about the guy with a duck on his head is a very direct lift.

Regarding plagirism and influence, no one has yet improved on the old saying attributed variously to T.S. Elliot, Picasso, and Stravinsky among others: Amateurs borrow, professionals steal.

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