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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ Right or Wrong? Ľ Ľ Steve Spill, not Mel Mellers (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Danny Hustle
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I am just sick to my stomach at the moment. I'm completely disillusioned to be perfectly honest.

I purchased Mel Meller's first two DVDs and they contained some of the most wonderful things I had seen in a long time. Just brilliant.

So when I heard there was a third DVD I picked it up yesterday. It was filled with more wonderful stuff right up until I saw "The mind reading duck". Mr. Mellers, being from England I thought this might be a nice tribute to a Tommy Cooper routine with the Jo-ann card. Tommy had a wonderful routine and I could see Meller's character taking it and running with it.

Instead I saw a blatant rip off of Steve Spill's mind reading goose act. I mean Mr. Spill did this thing all over the world for almost 30 years. I watched with my jaw hitting the floor and waited for the explanation.

I was assuming I would hear something like, "My good friend Steve Spill is releasing this in the states with Bob Kohler and I was lucky enough to get an advance copy etc..."

I mean, I wanted to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, I think he is a wonderful performer and picked up some fantastic things from his other DVDs. He always seemed to be Johnny on the spot with credits for other effects, he seems like a wonderful chap, and I figured this would be no different.

Instead he didn't even mention Mr. Spill, not a word! It's got to be a joke...where's the punchline? I mean he even had the same darn bird as Spill!

Well, it certainly appears as if Mr. Meller's is trying to pull a fast one. It is one thing for an amateur to 'borrow' a routine. I'd even expect it from some hack working the KofC in Podunk, but for a professional to release it on an instructional DVD without giving credit? You have got to be kidding me.

Is there an explanation? I mean did Mr. Meller's never see the routine and have it described to him as an "idea" during a brainstorming session with a friend? Was the duck a gift?

I don't know...I am having a heck of a time coming up with an excuse for the guy and I'd like to because he does not give the appearance of a dirt ball. But for crying out loud, this is the lowest...

Is Mr. Meller's a member? I'd really like to hear his side of things. I also bet Mr. Spill has a lot to say about it. Although if I were him I'd probably be too incandescent to talk about it.

I'm very, very, saddened by it.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Iím so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Review King
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Danny, thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention.

Steve Spill's Mind Reading Goose is a classic and it is all Steve Spill. He has never given permission for anyone to release a version or to perform his version ( he and Bob Kohler are going to release the only authorized version ).

Does anyone have Mel Meller's contact info? We ALL need to let him know that this is unacceptable and he needs to come forward and explain how this came about. He also needs to contact Steve Spill. I have no idea how he can make it right, but that's for he and Steve to work out.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
DStachowiak
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I can't think of any way this could be justified. Even if Steve had given Mel Mellers permission to perform this routine (which I doubt, considering it is a signature piece), for Mr. Mellers to release it (particularly when plans are underway for an authorized version to come out) would be extremely bad form. Although Mr. Mellers certainly deserves the right to explain himself, I am very doubtful if there is any possible way he can mitigate what certainly looks like blatant theft.
Although intellectual property law is notoriously ineffective in the Magic world, I would think that this particular routine is so closely identified with Steve, and this fact is so widely known, that legal action might be possible.
This is just a **** dirty shame.
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Steve Brooks
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I've never met Mel Meller nor have I seen any of his material, whether in lecture notes, on DVD or whatever.

However, I do know Steve Spill and Bob Kohler and can verify that the Mind Reading Goose trick is an original Steve Spill presentation - one that Steve created and has performed for many many years. I can also verify that the only person who is authorized to release this effect in any matter is Bob Kohler.

I do hope that this matter is resolved by all parties involved. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
Danny Hustle
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As far as copyright goes, because Mr. Spill performed this on national TV, the routine was automatically copyrighted as a one act play. merely displaying the copyright symbol is more than enough to copyright according to US laws.

I know WC Fields used to copyright all of his vaudeville juggling acts as one act plays after being viciously ripped off on the circuit (Here and abroad).

If Mr. Spill files a suit the monetary part might be difficult but I would be willing to bet Mr. Meller's would have a heck of a time entering the country.

Really sad stuff...



For those who own the Meller's DVD here is a link to Mr. Spill performing it on national TV about 20 years ago!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=junV6itsSf4

It is almost an exact rip off!

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Iím so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
DStachowiak
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Danny
Thanks for posting this, it's a real treat. Too bad it has to be here in a thread about it being ripped off.
Don
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Bob Kohler
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Thanks for the interest in keeping legal properties in magic.
The matter has been settled. The DVD is to the best of my knowledge no longer available.

Steve Spill's "The Mindreading Goose" is a classic and in my mind one of the perfect routines for stage magicians who want to add a comedy piece of mentalism. It's all self contained and is hilarious. Plus it's easy to do.

We've been working on the release at Bob Kohler Magic for a long time to make sure we got it right. We're very close to having everything finally ready. We've taken Steve's methods and applied some newer technology that simply wasn't available when he developed the routine.

That's all of the information I'll release for now. The wait won't be too much longer. Look for the release after our new web site launches.
www.bobkohlermagic.com

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Pete Biro
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Bob/Steve: I hope this has been settled and the idiot's DVD has been taken off the market. I don't know Mellers and wonder why he thought he could rip off someone's signature piece. Steve has been doing this for many, many years, and I always enjoyed seeing him peform it.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Larry Davidson
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I know the facts on this, because I was there when Steve Spill developed this routine. In the 1980's, I worked at the Brook Farm Inn of Magic with Steve (and Bob Sheets and others) and I personally witnessed Steve develop and fine tune this routine into the brilliant performance piece that it is today.

If anyone did to me what's been done to Steve, that "magician's" *** would be quacking, because that's where I'd shove his duck.
Michael Dustman
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Right or Wrong??? Wrong that the routine was blatently ripped off and right that the DVD has been pulled from the market.

I don't think I can add any more than Danny has already posted in his first post. I thought the exact same thing and haven't had a chance to get back on here and post. I also thoroughly enjoyed Mel's first 2 DVD's. I thought based on the first two it would be worth checking out the third although skeptical from the standpoint that the first two were billed as the best of his years of work. If that was the case then why wasn't this stuff on the first two.

I sat shocked watching the routine. I have been a huge fan of Steve's routine for 20 years. I first remember seeing it on the Magicians of the Magic Castle on CBS in 1988, along with Kozak, Lance Burton, Scott Cervine and Kevin James. I love the 20 Years of Steve Spill DVD. I am intimately familiar with the routine and could not believe that Mellers so callously ripped it off without any so much as a credit.

I was kind of psyched at Magic Live when Bob had a prototype on display of the Mindreading Goose. As Bob will tell you, I have purchased just about any routine he has put out. I thought that the Goose would be a cool bit in my act until the plane ride home from Vegas when I realized that some things just can't be duplicated. I realized that as much as I would love to support Steve with the purchase of his pet routine, it could never be done with the justification it deserves. Some routines stand alone with their creators. I feel this is one of them.

Actually, I hadn't heard the news yet that the DVD was pulled. I think it was the right decision, but my word...couldn't any research been done ahead of time?

Good luck to Steve and Bob on their future release.
DStachowiak
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Quote:
On 2008-04-17 23:05, Larry Davidson wrote:
I know the facts on this, because I was there when Steve Spill developed this routine. In the 1980's, I worked at the Brook Farm Inn of Magic with Steve (and Bob Sheets and others) and I personally witnessed Steve develop and fine tune this routine into the brilliant performance piece that it is today.

If anyone did to me what's been done to Steve, that "magician's" *** would be quacking, because that's where I'd shove his duck.

The Brook Farm Inn was where I first saw this piece, and I am pleased to know that "The Goose" is alive and well. I wish Steve and Bob the best with this.
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Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2008-04-17 21:46, Bob Kohler wrote:
Thanks for the interest in keeping legal properties in magic.
The matter has been settled. The DVD is to the best of my knowledge
no longer available.

Mr. Kohler,

I purchased this thing day before yesterday. It was from a brick and mortar magic shop and may have been on the shelf for a while...I dunno.

I am glad that you have been in contact with them and the matter has been settled.

I'd like to say that this was the right thing for them to do, but in all honesty, the right thing to do would have been for them to never release this on video.

There have been some spectacular arguments in magic over some props and even some routines. The first that pops to my mind is the great debacle over the color changing silks that lasted for decades. Even that seemed more like misunderstanding to an outside observer than a blatant rip off on anyone's part as the final effect was changed as well as the script.

I do not know as I have ever seen anything as blatant, or as heinous, as this particular bit of theft. As I said in my first post, it is not unheard of for an amateur or a function hall hack from a small town to 'repeat' a routine word for word. But for a pro, a guy who is releasing an instructional DVD to other magicians, to knock off a famous feature routine, from a very well known magician, I am at a complete and utter loss. I have no idea how the bloke could possibly think he would get away with it.

I know in my mind any credibility I had for the man is completely shattered. Everything on all of his DVDs have now become suspect to me.

Sad, sad, stuff. After all Mr. Spill has freely given the magic world, he deserves a lot better.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Iím so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Woodfield
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Quote:
On 2008-04-17 20:03, Christopher Kavanagh wrote:
Danny, thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention.

Steve Spill's Mind Reading Goose is a classic and it is all Steve Spill. He has never given permission for anyone to release a version or to perform his version (he and Bob Kohler are going to release the only authorized version).

Well, not quite right, but I'll get back to that in a moment.

The 80's
I'm a local Washington, D.C. magician sitting at a table laughing my *** off watching Steve Spill and Bob Sheets at the Brookfarm Inn Of Magic in Chevy Chase, MD
It was a real education in how to blend strong magic & comedy. Bob's Cups & Balls and Card Stab. Steve's Goose and the Needles. Not to forget the two man pieces, Paper Balls Over The Head, Sub Trunk, and the Floating Lady.
Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be working closely with both of these gentlemen. I was lucky enough to get hired around the same time as Bob Kohler to do close-up magic there and when they moved to Wheaton, MD.

The late 90's
The Inn is now just a memory and I'm working as a full-time pro, I learn a lot from Mr. Sheets who stayed in the area. Steve is set to open Magicopolis in Santa Monica and Bob says this would be a great opportunity for me, so I contact Steve. After numerous flights out to the West Coast to work at the theater, I decide to make the move out there and I'm now part of the team. It was a crazy time, I along with others are doing everything from cleaning the bathrooms, to giving tours, taking reservations, as well as performing. I'm doing shows in the close-up room, as well as kidshows there on the weekends, as well as performing in the stage show. And when I wasn't doing those things, I was standing out front on the sidewalk holding a goose and creating a buzz from local passerbys and motorists.

There, I told you I'd get to the goose.

Steve gave me permission to do the Goose Routine in the show. It was a great routine and played very well for me. Scott Alexander, who was on the show at that time, made me a tiny fez for the goose(in place of sunglasses Steve used), since my character wore a fez and monocle. I felt honored to be doing the routine, and never took it for granted.

Today
I have moved back to the D.C. area and have since retired the Woodfield character but still work as a full-time pro.

Taking another performer's routine is a lose-lose situation, for you and the creator. Like Danny, I enjoyed Mel's first 2 DVDs, he has a great character, so it's a bit of a shock to see this. The magic community is small and now with the internet, it's even smaller. Word is going to get out. The producer of this DVD has some explaining to do as well. Please support Bob Kohler and Steve by purchasing the authorized version. Then make it your own, you'll have a killer routine.

Barry Wood
Mr. Ree
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I have the ď10 Years of Steven SpillĒ DVD here.

I have shown my 19 and 23 year old sons quite a few
performances from various DVDs.
But none have made them laugh so hard as the routines of Steven Spill.

Between the Mindreading Goose, Burnt Bunny and the Blood from Stone routines
we all could not stop laughing.

It is obvious that these routines and others on the disk were developed over a period
of time with a great deal of hard work.
This material is at least 18 Ė 28 years old.)

Very simple solution for me although I already own the first two Mel Meller DVDs
I have no interest in the third.
(If it really has been pulled from shelves, good.)

I personally will not support any person or product that rips-off anotherís hard
work. I have placed Mel Meller on the same "no buy" list as MagicMakers.

Dave (Mr. Ree)
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russ stevens
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Hello Everyone,

As the producer of the new Mel Mellers DVD ďUndiscovered WonderĒ Iíve read some of your posts with interest regarding Melís version of The Mindreading Duck routine and thought that it was time to set the record straight from my end.

Some of you are quite happy to point out not having heard of Mel Mellers, Iíll be honest and say that I personally felt the same way when the name of Steve Spill was mentioned to me in an email about five weeks ago. The only knowledge that I had of the routine was from seeing a famous performer called Joe Pasquale (here in the UK) doing something similar on The Royal Variety Show on TV a few years ago. I was told about Steveís routine and did a search on Magic Cafť and found a thread discussing Bob Kohlers possible release. I immediately contacted Bob about the situation and asked him what he suggested we do to resolve any problems that he and Steve might have. In the meantime I also emailed Mel who was away performing, to ask for his side of the story. Before I even contacted Bob Kohler, I also contacted Murphys and asked them to suspend all sales. I donít think there was much else that I could do other than that at the time.

After a day or so I received this email from Mel:
Russ has pointed out to me that the concept of using a puppet and thumbwriter is used by another entertainer in the states. I have no knowledge of this as I do not buy many DVDs or watch other performers. I have been using a puppet/thumbriter combination since the early 80's. As the tape clearly states in the explanation you can use any puppet (I have). I am currently in my Duck phase. Any similarity with another performers working repertoire is to be regretted but I cannot believe it would be similar as my performances are very character driven. Best to everyone. Mel

Now let me explain. Iíve known Mel Mellers for quite some time and personally think that that heís a superb entertainer and up there with the best. For people to call him an idiot, is not only rather childish, but also shows that they too are unaware of his work. Some people really should know better. Out of respect to Steve Spill and Bob Kohler, for me personally it wasnít a big deal to simply remove the routine from the DVD and have it re-issued (obviously I couldnít do anything about the copies that were already out there).

Best,
Russ Stevens
Danny Hustle
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Mr. Stevens,

Thank you for your response.

Please take a look at this video of Mr. Spill performing the routine:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=junV6itsSf4

It would be one thing for Mr. Meller's to come up with a similar bent, but this routine and the routine on Mr. Meller's DVD are almost identical, right down to the opening gag.

I think Mr. Meller's is a brilliant entertainer, I think he is a very, very, smart man, I also know that he is a thief.

You did the right thing by taking the routine off of the DVDs I applaud you for that. But as far as not knowing who Mr. Spill was....look...most people in the US have no idea who Tommy Cooper is, but If I see an American wearing a fez and proclaiming "just like that!" over a bunch of bottles I'd know where he nicked the routine.

So while we are in agreement about Mr. Meller's intelligence, please don't insult ours. I wish you and Mr. Meller's continued success, I only hope it is with his original material from here on out.

Best,

Dan-
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©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
russ stevens
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Dear Mr. Hustle,

Iím slightly confused as to why you think Iím insulting your intelligence by not knowing who Steve Spill is. Please accept that I didnít, because thatís the truth.

Best,
Russ
Tony Iacoviello
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Russ:

Perhaps this will clear up your confusion:

Your posting Mell's comment:
Quote:
As the tape clearly states in the explanation you can use any puppet (I have). I am currently in my Duck phase. Any similarity with another performers working repertoire is to be regretted but I cannot believe it would be similar as my performances are very character driven. Best to everyone. Mel


and Danny's reply:
Quote:
It would be one thing for Mr. Meller's to come up with a similar bent, but this routine and the routine on Mr. Meller's DVD are almost identical, right down to the opening gag.


clearly illustrate his point.


Tony Iacoviello
Dannydoyle
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Well clearly to me the goose can read minds. It was so obvious!
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2008-04-19 13:29, russ stevens wrote:
Dear Mr. Hustle,

Iím slightly confused as to why you think Iím insulting your intelligence by not knowing who Steve Spill is. Please accept that I didnít, because thatís the truth.

Best,
Russ (rsvpmagic.com)


Hi Mr. Steven's I am sorry for the confusion. It was Mr. Mellers' reply I was talking about


Quote:
"After a day or so I received this email from Mel:
Any similarity with another performers working repertoire is to be regretted but I cannot believe it would be similar as my performances are very character driven. Best to everyone. Mel"

Mr. Stevens please watch the video. I linked to The routine (not the duck nail writer props alone) are nearly identical including the opening joke.

I tried to put it into perspective by using Tommy Cooper as an example. Let me try again, Here in the U.S. there are maybe 100 people on the continent that know who Tommy Cooper is. 100% of those 100 people are magicians.

But, if I were to go to Covent Garden and swing a dead cat everyone I hit would know who Tommy Cooper was and poor Tommy has been dead for nearly 20 years.

Now if an American put out a video where he was wearing a fez, holding a glass jar and a spoon, and loudly proclaimed, "spoon jar! jar! jar! spoon!" and proceeded to make the spoon dance merrily in the jar. You would be sitting there saying, oh that's interesting, it must be some type of homage to Tommy. then the explanation came up and the guy claimed total originality, you would know with a moral certainty that this guy was full of tripe. He either stole that routine from Tommy directly, or he stole it from someone who stole it from Tommy.

Here in America Mr. Spill isn't quite as well known as Tommy was in the U.K. BUT in the world of magic we have been watching Steve do the Goose for close to 30 years. On TV, in comedy clubs, at the magic castle, and a thousand other places. You also may not know that Mr. Spill's dad is Sand Spillman, on of the greatest mentalists to ever read a mind, and host at the magic castle for many years. As a boy Steve learned the craft taking private lessons from Dai Vernon when Steve was still under the impression that girls were "yicky".

In the world of magic here in the states the workers all know Mr. Spill, and we all saw that dang Goose 30 years ago when he was breaking it in. It isn't like a couple of guys saw him do it in a comedy club. If VERNON were still alive HE'D tell you it was Spills.

So, for Mr. Mellers (who I still admire greatly as an entertainer) to try and tell us :
Quote:
" Any similarity with another performers working repertoire is to be regretted but I cannot believe it would be similar as my performances are very character driven. Best to everyone. Mel"


With all the evidence pointing to the contrary, Mr. Mellers' either believes we are stupid, or Mr. Mellers' himself has no idea what he is talking about.

Because for these to routines to be a coincidence it would be the greatest coincidence to ever occur on the planet earth. I mean that in all sincerity.

What is much more likely to have happened is Mr. Mellers saw someone perform this routine and that person ripped off Mr. Spill and Mr. Mellers' may have asked that person for permission and that bloke said, "sure" because it wasn't his bloody routine to begin with.

Believe me when I tell you Mr. Stevens I am a BIG fan of Mr. Mellers, I wish what I have said above were not so, but it is, sincerely. For Mr. Mellers to make the claim he did in that email only made his situation and credibility in this particular case worse. I wish you both nothing but the best, and I am not by nature an angry or vindictive person. It actually pains me to point this out, and perhaps I should have done it in an email, but seriously, to anyone who has seen Mr. Spill do the routine there is no other explanation. I say this only as a fellow magician and entertainer. I do not know Mr. Spill personally or Mr. Mellers. I have no personal ax to grind and the entire debacle is quite sad indeed. I just wish Mr. Mellers would either fess up or we should all just let it die. You took the clip off the DVD, brilliant, good form, it's as it should be. But please, refrain from patronizing us with the possibility of independent discovery. This is an entire routine, not a card move or a clever box.

All the best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Iím so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
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