A tangled web of reality

Flash of Genius is a movie about Bob Kearns, the engineer who invented the intermittent windshield wiper only to have it built into Ford and other cars without permission. It is a favourite case for entrepreneurship classes about the risks associated with disclosing ideas while trying to sell them.


In researching a new paper, we came across a similar set of stories from Hollywood. One of these was particularly interesting:

Sixteen years ago, Mr. Marder began carving a niche among unhappy writers by representing Mr. Kinnear in his lawsuit against the American Broadcasting Company, alleging that the network had stolen the idea for the hit television show ”America’s Funniest Home Videos” from him. ”Greg is a very level guy, but I have never seen him more emotionally upset than by what happened with ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos,’ ” Mr. Marder said. ”We eventually won on appeal. The case was similar to Grosso, but there wasn’t the same effect because it was never published.”

Here is why it is so interesting: Greg Kinnear plays Bob Kearns in the movie. Talking about knowing and feeling your character!

By the way, the movie never made it to Australia but it is out on DVD in the US on February 17. I am still looking forward to seeing it.

2 thoughts on “A tangled web of reality”

  1. I have little sympathy for those who claim their ideas have been stolen. The system does not reward ideas — it rewards results. You don’t get rewarded for having an idea for a great paper — you get rewarded by having it accepted for publication.

    The risk is that the person who has a good idea but lacks the competence to execute will be rewarded, while the person who takes that good idea and turns it into a great product is overlooked. As an investor, I know who I want to put my money on.


  2. Aha! Now it’s beginning to make sense.

    I worked with Greg on Flash of Genius and was amazed at how seamlessly he stepped into the role of Bob Kearns.

    I had also spent 40+ years living & working with my Dad while he was inventing, patenting and enforcing the rights to his 35 patented inventions.

    It was amazing to watch Greg “BE” Bob Kearns. It certainly didn’t seem like acting to me.

    Alan Alda’s portrayal of his attorney was equally intense and reality based.

    “Alan Alda, who plays Kearns’
    Lawyer in the film, enjoyed being
    the reality check for the Kinnear
    character, as he shares he had to
    come to that realization early in his
    career himself.
    “What I loved about this, especially
    in the scene that the three of
    us have together, where Greg’s character
    finds out that you don’t get
    justice in an ideal way in a situation
    like this, you don’t get them to admit
    they harmed you… you just get
    money. “
    “And his character is a little offended
    by that, and I remember
    when I read that scene in the script
    I remembered the day when I was in
    my twenties when I had that same
    lesson I had that same thing said
    to me, somebody had wronged me
    and I was about to go to court and
    I wanted it to spelled out that they
    had wronged me, and instead of
    that the lawyer said no no no you get
    money… that’s justice. And it was a
    horrible realization.”

    This as well as Director Marc Abraham’s deep understanding of Bob Kearns and all the characters is what makes Flash of Genius a great depiction of the reality of the situation.

    As for dyork the investor’s analysis, we can remind him, perhaps it’s his school of thinking that has created the financial crisis and collapse, that we are all paying billions for now!


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