If This Were Wall St., People Would Be Jailed
by Armand Vaquer
Regular readers of this blog are aware of a controversy concerning the commentary extras on Sony's Icons of Sci-Fi: The Toho Collection
. This collection includes Mothra
and Battle In Outer Space
. (Go here
to refresh yourself on the controversy.)
Sony's Michael Schlesinger, as you may recall, intended that prominent G-fans and historians from all sectors would be participating in the set. However, that did not come to pass as the person in charge of putting together the set selected Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski to provide the commentaries in this set. August Ragone and others, in good faith, relied upon Schlesinger's advice on participating. But the cards were already stacked, pretty much from the start.
As far as anyone can tell, the set was announced in July 2008 in a blog
by Ian Friedman when he interviewed Schlesinger:
MS: "The set is penciled in for ’09. It will contain those three plus REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 (1998), which somehow got overlooked for DVD. The intent is to have the uncut versions with Japanese tracks as well as the English dubs. MOTHRA and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE are done; THE H-MAN is proving to be a bit trickier, but it should be completed in time."
This week, an interview of Ryfle and Godziszewski by Richard Pusateri was posted at Sci-Fi Japan
. In it, Steve Ryfle is quoted as saying:
We lobbied for the job for nearly two years. Through our friend Oki Miyano, I was able to meet with Michael Friend, who supervised the restoration project, in April 2007.
This is interesting because as of March 13, 2009, Schlesinger was not even aware of any decisions concerning extras on this set and had invited people to submit their proposals. And people in general weren't aware of this set being planned until about June 2008. Yet Ryfle and Godziszewski now admit they were actively lobbying for the commentaries and other extras since April 2007.
This sounds very much like "illegal insider trading" in Wall Street (which is, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission,"Illegal insider trading refers generally to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading violations may also include "tipping" such information, securities trading by the person "tipped," and securities trading by those who misappropriate such information"
). Martha Stewart was sent to prison for illegal insider trading.
So, through Oki Miyano, Ryfle and Godziszewski were given "insider access" to Michael Friend. This was access that no one else was equally privileged to receive. At that point (April 2007) nobody knew that this set was even planned.
As the title of this article states, "If This Were Wall St., People Would Be Jailed." Fortunately for those involved, this wasn't Wall Street and, as far as I know, no laws were broken. But it certainly, at the very least, calls to question people's ethics.
A stacked deck is still a stacked deck.