The “Icelandic Ultra-Blue” Controversy Continues: Read H. Jon Benjamin’s Retort for Mike Lazzo
The ongoing creative dispute between David Cross/H. Jon Benjamin and Adult Swim exec Mike Lazzo just got more intense. After a series of messages between Cross and Lazzo — catch up with part 1, part 2, and part 3 of the dispute — Benjamin sent us an email this morning with a retort of his own, and he even attached an 11-page budget document to refute Lazzo’s claim that he and Cross were “just too expensive” to earn a series order for their Paid Programming pilot, called “Icelandic Ultra-Blue,” in 2009. Read Benjamin’s full message to Lazzo below, lightly edited for clarity:
hey america and mike lazzo, it’s jon (one of the founding members of ‘the dimwit(s)’ ) pinch-hitting for dave. i’m not as nuanced as david but I do have a boorish charm, so i’ll try as best i can to respond. I’m a fan of the romance genre so i’ll approach it from that vantage point. you stole our idea. plain and simple. nothing like Ultrablue had ever been attempted until we did it. Your only creative contribution was giving us the forum to do it and then your ethically dubious ‘creative’ choice to rip it off and repeat it. As far as timing goes, i did bring attention to this shadiness when i wrote matt harrigan (a lazzo lackey) back in 2012 when you first aired michael ian black’s show (i believe called You’re Whole which was an info-ad parody aired at 4am) – but to no avail. And we are supposed to be okay with your sage conceit that stealing ideas is the DNA of creative types like you and we’re too dumb to know that? I’m sure you get ripped off and are none too pleased about it. Hell, I just saw a Sprint ad that ripped off your text on screen ad campaign. Also, now that you bring up money (can’t speak for dave) but I do want some. I think you owe us. Every show that followed ours would not have been done without our initial concept that we gave you. You can obfuscate the truth all you want with all this musing on creativity, but that i know to be fact. I know we had to hard sell Harrigan on the idea to push you to do it at 4 am because it couldn’t make money. You didn’t want to do it and then you later took credit for the idea. Another ‘creative’ choice. Back to romance. Sometimes, kids can act all mean to their schoolboy crushes and do bad things to them because they harbor some secret resentment against them, maybe because they have this crazy ideal about them and know in their heart that that person will never like them back because deep down they know no one likes them. All this without even asking. Is david your secret crush? or me? Probably David. he’s more famous.
ps here’s a copy of the budget (not including the 20k split for dave and I for writing/producing), because why would you know about how much money you gave us
you gave us a total of approx. 75k not 60 so i guess you win your bet that i never accepted. anyway, that would only serve to promote you and your network but you knew that. why don’t you eat that off camera? it would make more sense to me.
Here’s the first page summary of the 11-page budget breakdown Benjamin emailed us: