Originally Posted by Priya
Not really slim to none. Just shows you're plugged into the show's zeitgeist.
Years back I wanted to write a Without A Trace spec. I asked myself where would be the hardest place for a person to go missing and who would be the worst person to go missing from that place. I came up with Prison and a high-profile skinhead. I wrote it. I sent it to many of the different programs out there, including Warner Bros. That same year, I was called in to interview for WB's program. I didn't make it. I'd heard that some execs from shows read some of the semi-finalists' scripts.
Three months later, Without A Trace did an episode about a high profile skinhead who goes missing from prison.
Occam's Razor: They stole my idea.
Way I look at it? They probably had the same thought process as mine.
Prior to that, I wrote an Alias spec, right after the first season ended. And I sent in to the ABC/Disney fellowship. Second season comes along, their season premiere is my episode down to a T. Details were exactly the same.
Occam's Razor: They stole my idea. Maybe execs read submissions, too?
Way I look at it? I was plugged in to the show's zeitgeist.
I'm not saying it's bad advice to tell people to be cover their asses, as you are, and send through your reps and register it, etc. Everyone should look out for themselves.
I just get amused when people think their stuff gets stolen. No show wants to take that chance, risk that liability. That's why, for the most part, showrunners won't read writers' specs of their own show. So, I'm sorry, I'm highly doubtful that your idea got stolen. But if the experience, as non-nefarious as it sounds, taught you to cover your ass? That's a great lesson to learn!!!
If you're amused by it, that's kinda sad because it sounds like you were blatantly ripped off. It's one thing to come up with an idea that you send out unsolicited or ask friends to read, and then you see a film or tv episode that is strikingly similar to your concept. THAT you can chalk up to "nothing is original" and similar thoughts. Heck, a year ago I came up with a concept, started writing it, and a few months later Stand freakin Lee announced his plans for a project that sounded like he literally read my mind. I just laughed, and if anything felt flattered to share a brain wave with a genius like him. But when you submit material to specific companies for specific projects and they consider it, and discuss it with you and everything and then months later find a near scene by scene carbon copy of what you pitched them on the ariwaves or the big screen....that's something more.
It surprises me that people really believe that studios wouldn't want to risk lawsuits by ripping off writers who've submitted materials to them. They may not go into a meeting thinking "I'm gonna steal this guy's idea!" but to think that they don't read things and then weeks or months later remember it and suggest the same creative points to others is naive and giving way too much credit to executives who would happily turn screenwriters into interns who work for free if they could.
People are out for themselves, and they won't hesistate to take a seed that's been planted and harvest it for the sole benefit of themselves and their associates. The more money someone has, the more money they want to make, and 90% of them will make it by any means necessary. Call me jaded, but it's the truth. If it wasn't, we wouldn't need the WGA and guild minimums now would we?