Ricky Jay - On The Stem

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Ben James 1
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Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Ben James 1 » December 31st, 2015, 5:55 pm

Hi,

Does anyone know if there is a copy available of Ricky Jay's show 'On The Stem'?
I know the 52 assistants show was recorded but have never seen or heard about On The Stem.

Any help and advice would be appreciated

Thanks
Ben.

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 31st, 2015, 6:07 pm

Not that I am aware of. And I would expect not. Reportedly Ricky was unhappy with the HBO edit of "52 Assistants" and the enormous amount of piracy also rubbed him--quite rightfully so--the wrong way.

Ben James 1
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Ben James 1 » December 31st, 2015, 6:30 pm

Is it possible to buy an authorised / legit copy of 52 assistants?
I know it's all over youtube - but would prefer to purchase a legit copy if I could.
I've searched HBO website & internet for it - unsuccessfully.
Ben.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 31st, 2015, 7:20 pm

There is no place to buy a copy.

From what I heard, Ricky's contract with HBO required them to produce the entire show, and yet they cut out a half hour.

On the Stem was a better show, but it was mounted only once, and will never be seen again. There are no recordings (not even bootlegs) that I've seen.
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P.T.Widdle
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby P.T.Widdle » December 31st, 2015, 8:15 pm

I saw On The Stem (nyah! nyah!). It was excellent, and yes, better than 52 Assistants.

I still have my goodies that I bought from Ricky as he was roaming the aisles during intermission. "Exact change, please!"

Bill Mullins
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Bill Mullins » December 31st, 2015, 11:08 pm

Ben James 1 wrote:Is it possible to buy an authorised / legit copy of 52 assistants?

I don't believe it was ever offered for sale.

In the early years of Ebay, you'd see offered what were claimed to be "screeners" (recordings officially produced for review purposes, etc.), but they almost certainly were pirated copies.

My VHS copy was taped off of HBO in late 1996, and as such, is an entirely legal, legitimate copy per the Supreme Court's "Betamax" decision. But it's legal only as long as I use it for personal time-shifting purposes. 19 years is time-shifting, isn't it?

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 31st, 2015, 11:45 pm

HBO did in fact produce a limited number of promotional VHS copies. I even took a chance that I was purchasing one via eBay. Turned out it was a copy of one. I know this because of a cheesy little ink jet printed sticker that said "for promotional purposes only" and, after I purchased, the seller sold another dozen-plus copies. So unless this one guy from Texas got every promo copy that existed, or he was a friggin' pirate. The question was settled when he started selling "promotional" DVDs, which of course never existed. As a result, even my nice clean copy (not recorded from air, that much I can tell) is an unauthorized duplication.

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Brian Morton
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Brian Morton » January 1st, 2016, 12:50 am

I have a VHS copy given to me by an exec from HBO. I'd say it's legit. :D

brian 8-)

Bill Mullins
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Re: Ricky Jay - On The Stem

Postby Bill Mullins » January 1st, 2016, 12:52 am

Dustin Stinett wrote:HBO did in fact produce a limited number of promotional VHS copies.


When I worked for a used record store in the 1970s in Nashville, we'd often get what were called "Promo Copies" of albums brought to us, in hopes we'd pay cash money for them. These were typically albums which had something like "Promotional Copy Not For Resale" hot-stamped on the jacket, and were given by the labels to DJs, radio stations, reviewers, the music press, execs in the music industry, etc., for various promotional purposes. These copies weren't considered to have been sold by accountants and auditors, and artists, songwriters, etc. never received royalties for these copies.

Usually these were fairly recent releases, often of popular stars, and were much easier to turn around than another beat-up copy of "Frampton Comes Alive" (we had dozens of them in stock -- everyone and their brother must have bought a copy when it was new, and later got tired of it). So, expecting to sell it for $3 in a short time, we'd pay $1.50 or so for it (rather than the 25 cents you might could get for a junk album). There were some DJs who, particularly near the end of the month, could be counted on too bring in stacks of these albums and sell them to cover their rent, car payment, etc. Somewhere, perhaps in my Mom's garage, I have a copy of Styx's "Pieces of Eight" that is of such murky origins.

Occasionally some representative from a label would come, see them in the bins, and claim we were selling "stolen property" and get all mad. No, we'd say, it isn't stolen, you gave it away. Au contraire, they'd say, we didn't give it away, we loaned it to the recipient for specific purposes, and they had no right to sell it to you. Us: do you ever expect the "borrower" to return it to you? Them: but, but, but . . . (sputter). These discussions usually ended up with vague threats of a lawsuit, and us culling the promo copies from the bins and putting them in storage for a while, and promising not to do it any more. And in a few weeks the heat would die down and things would return to normal.

The point being, even a promotional copy may not be legal for you to own (unless you are a cable programmer, a video critic, or someone equivalent). Brian's HBO exec friend may have had legal possession of the tape, but may not have had the legal right to give it to Brian. I say "may", because as far as I know, the legal theory that it was originally "loaned" and not given away is untested in court. A good IP lawyer might convince a judge that the "first sale doctrine" means that a copy legally produced can be transferred without encumbrance. Like many IP issues, the costs to litigate aren't worth the stakes involved.

One night along about 1978 or 1979 I was working at the store and two women brought in a stack of recent albums for us to buy. They had been working at a local studio and had no cash, and "needed some beer money", so they grabbed a bunch of albums laying around the studio to sell. I bought the albums, and they took the money to the local minimart and got a couple of six packs and went on their way. The women were Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, and they were just as nice as they could be. Nancy has always been stunning, and this was before Ann had her weight issues (it was also before my weight issues . . . ) and she was equally hot (check the liner photos on "Dog and Butterfly" or "Little Queen" sometime). This, as you can imagine, completely rocked my 17-year old starstruck world -- I may have paid a little too much for their albums.


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