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Morgan Spurlock Continues to Recruit Advertisers, Draws Plagiarism Charges

Morgan Spurlock Continues to Recruit Advertisers, Draws Plagiarism Charges (photo)

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I’ve interviewed Morgan Spurlock a few times. He’s funny, charming, smart, and a very good salesman. That last part’s the key to his new project, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” It’s about the rise of product placement in Hollywood and includes Spurlock’s attempts to monetize the project by recruiting advertisers, including an above-the-title presenting sponsor (technically speaking, the movie is now called “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”). Sounds like a great meta-movie to me, and a good match of star and subject. When “TGMES” premiered at Sundance last month it received mostly good reviews; you can hear Alison Willmore talk about it on our Sundance podcast.

Even though Spurlock has already sold “TGMES” to Sony Pictures Classics, the sales continue. Advertising Age reports that Spurlock is selling the naming rights to his talk at the upcoming TED Conference on eBay. On the auction page, Spurlock promises that “during my talk I will make reference to your company, reflect positively on your placement and share the process of how you got involved.” You can find the auction here — as I’m writing this, the current bid is $510.00.

He may need the money, as today The A.V. Club reported Houston-based artists “The Art Guys” are accusing Spurlock of plagiarizing their ideas, particularly the brand-laden suit Spurlock wears in the film and during some promotional appearances. They claim Spurlock’s outfit bears an non-coincidental resemblance to their work “SUITS: The Clothes Make the Man.” The Art Guys told Mediabistro, “with all the media attention the SUITS generated, both printed and electronic, including CNN, “CBS News Sunday Morning,” and given the fact that there’s even a book about it available on Amazon, we find it beyond belief that he did not just steal our idea.”

You can compare Spurlock’s suit to the “SUITS” at those respective links. There’s certainly a similarity. But is it plagiarism? According to the definition I brazenly stole from, plagiarism is “taking the writings or literary ideas of another and selling and/or publishing them as one’s own writing.” You can’t sue someone for plagiarism, but the Art Guys could theoretically sue for copyright infringement, assuming they copyrighted the SUITS. The question in that case becomes whether or not Spurlock purloined this idea or simply dreamed a similar one up by coincidence. According to this law class website from the University of North Carolina, The Art Guys would have to prove that the Spurlock knowingly copied the “protectable expression.” Though the Art Guys find it “beyond belief” that Spurlock couldn’t know their work, it seems pretty plausible to me. I’d certainly never heard of them before today. Maybe I don’t watch enough “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

So far Spurlock hasn’t responded to the allegations. I presume he’s waiting for someone to sponsor the press release.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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