‘Three’s Company’ Owner Goes After Writer of Parody Play ’3C’

Come and knock on my door… I have a cease and desist letter for you…

Sorry, I know that’s an awful joke — it doesn’t even fit the melody.  But it’s fitting, since playwright David Adjmi found himself on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter from the copyright owner of the 1970s/1980s television series Three’s Company on the day of the opening night of his new play, 3C3C borrows the premise of Three’s Company — a man who is pretending to be homosexual in order to live with two female roommates — and the cast even visually looks like their 1970s counterparts, though Adjmi uses that initial material to develop different relationships among the characters.

Initially Adjmi agreed with the Three’s Company copyright holder, DLT Entertainment, to not produce the play or publish the script after its initial five-week Off-Broadway run at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.  It is essentially a death sentence for Adjmi’s work, since it means that it would only exist in the memories of those who had seen the play during its already-ended initial run. 

While parody is protected under the law — otherwise how else has MAD Magazine stayed in existence for decades — Adjmi admits he doesn’t have the money to fund the legal muscle required to fight DLT Entertainment’s lawyers.  Donald Taffner Jr, president of the company, explains that one of the reasons his company fought against 3C is that DLT Entertainment is actually considering a stage version of Three’s Company on its own and doesn’t want to hurt the brand.  He also claims that 3C borrows too many elements of the work it’s based off to be considered “fair use.”

Despite Adjmi’s agreement (he had not signed a contract stating he would not produce the play), other playwrights are encouraging him to fight against DLT Entertainment, including Other Desert Cities writer Jon Robin Baitz.  Speaking to The New York Times, Baitz says of the controversy, “The fact that the lawyers for the long-gone show Three’s Company have nothing better to do, aside from billing legal hours like truffle pigs, than attempt to bully an Off Broadway playwright of modest means is an affront of the most base kind.”

With parody musicals and plays currently popular in off-Broadway theater — including recent productions of parodies of Silence of the Lambs, Twilight, and Harry Potter — it’s worth observing whether the action taken by DLT Entertainment against 3C will set a precedent that would prevent playwrights from using parody in their future work. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/director-david-gordon-greene-nar.jpg
Director David Gordon Green Narrates a Scene From ‘Joe’
Director David Gordon Green narrates a sequence from his new film, Joe, featuring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. In the video, he mentions his reasons why he likes to hire non-traditional actors. He likes people who have real skill-sets and not actors who have the skills on their resume. He also talked about this in […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/david-gordon-green-joe.jpg
Director David Gordon Green: “I find actors in unusual places”
I keep missing screenings of director David Gordon Greene‘s new film, Joe. I hear it’s really good so I’m looking forward to catching it at some point. Joe stars Nicholas Cage as ex-con Joe Ransom, who isn’t the greatest of role models until he meets a 15-year-old boy (Mud‘s Tye Sheridan). In this featurette, Green […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/judy-greer-i-dont-know-why-you-know-me-from.jpg
Please Don’t Say These Things To Judy Greer (video)
Judy Greer - who we love here at Daily Actor – has a new book called, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From (Confessions of a Co-Star), a series of essays about her life as an actress, friend and someone who everyone thinks they might know. Here’s a blurb about the book: “Want to […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Captain-America-SamuelNick-Fury.jpg
How Samuel L. Jackson Learns His Lines for the Marvel Movies (video)
Samuel L. Jackson stopped by Good Morning America earlier this week to talk about Captain America: The Winter Soldier – which is terrific, by the way – and he told Robin Roberts that for the first Cap film, he had trouble learning his lines. “I sat at home and I did all my studying, and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/andy-karl-margot-seibert-rocky.jpg
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert Talk ‘Rocky: The Musical’ on ‘Today’
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert, the stars of Rocky: The Musical, talked to Today‘s Matt Lauer about the new Broadway musical. Karl talks about the final fight and taking on the iconic role. This is Seibert’s Broadway debut and she’s asked about her callbacks (9 in all!) and more. Check it out!