David Cross and H. Jon Benjamin Respond to Adult Swim’s Mike Lazzo About “Icelandic Ultra-Blue”

icelandic_ultrablueIn his Reddit AMA last week, David Cross accused Adult Swim exec Mike Lazzo of ripping off the concept (specifically the time slot and lack of promotion) of his 2009 pilot with H. Jon Benjamin Paid Programming, and Lazzo had some harsh but confusing words for Cross in response on Friday, calling the Paid Programming pilot episode “Icelandic Ultra-Blue” a “dumbfuck program” that “is not too bad actually” and calling Cross a “delusional dick” for his claims. (Adult Swim even uploaded the full “Icelandic Ultra-Blue” video to YouTube shortly after Lazzo posted on Reddit.) Today, Cross and Benjamin responded to Lazzo on Facebook, and it’s an extremely detailed, point-by-point breakdown of Lazzo’s Reddit post from Friday. Read the full response from Cross and Benjamin below:

Hey everybody, just wanted to post this response from Jon and I to Mike Lazzo. Been running around but happy to finally get this out there. Here it be:

Mike, I totally agree, calling someone a thief is a shit thing to say. But I don’t know what else to call what you did. I mean, that is what it was. But let me address your response point by point.

While I’m not sure what you mean when you write, “Like I could ever need your thinking”, but I DID tell you to air Icelandic at 4am under the heading of “Paid Programming” and as well, urged you not to tell anyone about it so that people could enjoy the process of figuring out what the hell they just watched was. In fact that’s the whole (and sole) point of contention. So…you will offer me a job in programming? And possibly in development as well? Okay, well, thank you for that. But please Mike, for the love of God, don’t make me go over this a third time! Once more, here goes, neither Jon nor I believe, nor did we ever believe, or claim, or anything of that nature, that we “invented any sort of baffling late night television”. Of course we know that! I’m not mentally retarded, nor did I just wake up out of a coma that I fell into in the early 50’s. Once again, for the record once again, I never said that. As well, I am fully aware, as I always have been, that neither Jon nor I invented making fun of late night infomercials. I can’t state that enough (apparently).

I agree, you have been making unusual (and often great and wholly original) television shows for quite some time now. Hell, I’ve appeared in a number of them! Like, literally dozens of various episodes from several shows. I’m not sure why you included the stock exchange abbreviation for Time-Warner but good for you. I am, and remain, a big fan of what you’ve meant to TV in general. But again…the deviousness of taking Jon and I’s idea as your own. That we can’t forgive.

Now as you know, I grew up in Atlanta. As you may not know, I used to watch the Bill Tush show all the time. Loved it. Remember a young Jan Hooks? I do. I even remember when TV first stayed on air in Atlanta for 24 hours. It was Channel 11. “11 Alive” was their slogan. Remember? I do. Okay, I just looked it up on wikipedia, Tush was on at midnight. Any commercial parodies would have been within the context of his comedy show, so, not the same thing. Maybe you mean when he did goofy news reports late night? I’m not sure what you’re referencing. But again (AGAIN AGAIN!) We’re not claiming that you ripped off our idea of a commercial parody! That would be an absurd claim.

But let us continue. You then go on to call our show a “dumbfuck program” and then in the very same sentence say that it’s, “not too bad actually”. That’s confusing. It’s one or the other. But then, to heap more confusion on top of a slowly building mound of confusionaltude, you say (again, in the very same sentence), “if it was really all that good you’d probably still be making it”. Wha? And to make it even worse, this is in opposition to what you told my manager when he first contacted you after the wall street journal interview where you took credit for the idea and my manager asked you basically, “Mike, what the fuck?!” Do you remember your reply? I do. It was this, and I quote, “After viewing the pilot we considered the idea too intellectual to build an audience.” That is a direct quote…from you…about our show. Mike, you need to really think about your defensive posture here. You’re all over the place. Pick one but do try to stick to just the one. It will help you in the long run if (when?) other people call you on your bullshit.

Now let’s talk about the next thing you wrote, which also bothers us. You say that we’re “too expensive” for our creations. Really Mike? Go back and check the fucking contract. That show had a budget of $60,000. So you got an entire 11 and a half minute show for 60k! I would imagine that any other network would jump at that. That’s insanely cheap for TV. And way, way below our going rates to create and deliver a finished show. But we agreed to it because we loved the idea and had a blast writing and producing it.

Shit, I was remiss in skipping over the “I’m just one thief among many in the building” line you wrote. That is, perhaps, your weakest defense. By stating that, you must realize that you are throwing everyone you work with under the bus for something you, and only you, did. You and Matt Harrigan were the only ones in the room that day. I know you were antsy about possibly missing your tee time (True fun fact! Mike is crazy about golf, a mild addiction as it were. Ask anyone) but we talked about this idea for a good thirty minutes. I went over the arc of the show in detail. How it would end with the, “phase one is complete” line with, “To Be Continued” up on a card following. Then, it would be eventually revealed that I.U.B. was created by an alien race to eventually enslave earth blah, blah, blah. Again, there were only three people in the room, one of them being me. It’s really shitty, VERY shitty really, to lump in a building full of your co-workers in what you alone did. They’re innocent.

While I may in fact be a dick, and most of the Internet would agree with you there, I’m hardly delusional. Okay, that’s it for now until you release another poorly written, and suspect response. BUT we did get one positive thing from all of this, Jon suggested, “Showbiz Crybaby” would make an excellent heading on my tombstone!

Yours in cutting and pasting,

David and Jon.

UPDATE: Lazzo has responded on Reddit again.

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