Last week we reported that Travis Richey, the actor who plays Inspector Spacetime on Community, had launched a Kickstarter to fund a six-episode web series based on the character. The Kickstarter has already raised over $12,000 of its $20,000 goal, but there was a catch: Richey didn’t get the blessing of Dan Harmon, NBC, Sony, or anyone else involved in Community before starting the project.
As expected, Richey got served. He posted this statement on Kickstarter:
Lawyers from Sony and NBC have contacted me demanding that I cease production on an Inspector Spacetime web series. Though I firmly believe the law would be on my side in producing this parody, [Ed. – O RLY?] I have no wish or ability to fight a show that I love as much as “Community.” I had hoped that they would embrace what is essentially a fan film and appreciate the value it adds to the character, and the audience that we would bring who are finding “Community” for the first time through this character, but alas, that’s not the case. So, I will be removing all references to Inspector Spacetime from this series (it only happened in the title anyway), and altering the appearance of the Inspector so that he does not look like Inspector Spacetime. What remains is 100% the creation of myself, my writing partner, and you, the fans.
The working title of the show is now “Untitled Webseries About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time.” That has a nice ring to it. Or perhaps, as ToplessRobot commenter James Walker points out, he’d likely have no legal problems if he simply titled it “This Ain’t Inspector Spacetime XXX.” Or would he get sued by Vivid over the use of “This Ain’t?” Cor blimey, these legal issues are doing my head in.
I don’t know what’s worse: that an actor would start making a spin-off without getting permission first or that the rights holder would look at the potential for free publicity from fan-funded videos and immediately say, “Aww HAIL naw!” (That’s a direct quote. Totally.) So everyone ends up looking a bit silly, and we may not get anything resembling Inspector Spacetime in a fan-service web series. Truly this is the darkest timeline.