Face the Ace $85 Million Lawsuit

Was the worst show in poker a stolen idea?

by , Sep 14, 2009 | 4:50 pm

I’ve got a buddy named Adam who believes there’s no such thing as an original idea. Then you’ve got guys like Pauly, who, according to one of his closest friends and colleagues, “if you use the word ‘and’ in your writing he’ll think you took it from him.” (In Pauly’s defense, shady web ops around the world do steal Tao content daily, and he knows just how dirty Hollywood and Las Vegas can be …)

So in light of last week’s $85 million lawsuit against Poker PROductions, NBC Universal, and Mori Eskandani, see for yourself and decide: Does Brandon McSmith’s All Star Poker Challenge* look like ill-gotten inspiration for Face the Ace to you?

* Not to be confused with the British All-Star Poker Challenge, which ran for one season in 2005.

The above is a Powerpoint presentation McSmith sent me a little more than a year ago seeking feedback. Click below for my response: in a nutshell, I tell him I think this might have worked in 2006, but not now … and it needs more monkeys … but keep trying!

When the courts look at his case on the surface, you’ll see he might have a claim. McSmith — who I can tell you is just a regular dad with what he sincerely believes to be a great show concept, not some whackjob huckster despite representing himself pro se — went through the process of registering his idea with the Writer’s Guild of America before embarking on a path into TV Land that put his show in front of all sorts of relevant eyes.

At the same time, Poker PROductions will likely be able to get the case dismissed in summary judgment with the claim that hey, we’re just a television production company; Full Tilt brought this show to us. Passing the buck? That’s how McSmith sees it — and he’s got a slew of documents showing what he claims to be “reckless disregard for the truth” from the parties he dealt with in unsuccessfully pitching his show to Poker PROductions and NBC. However, should the case get that far, Poker PROductions will likely be able to show (with the help of Full Tilt) that no, really, this was a concept that Full Tilt began working in 2005 … called Four Aces at the time.

So that begs the question whatever happened with Clonie’s case? why the big overbet?

On Jun 26, 2008, at 10:13 AM, Brandon wrote:

DanM,

I’ve attached a power point presentation my production company put together for pitching my show. I would be interested in your feed back. They are going to add voice over track which they are recording this week so its not completely finished yet. I’m trusting you not to let this get out, like I said I made this with you guys in mind. This is a show the whole poker player community can embrace.

Brandon McSmith
C: 702-xxx-xxxx
H: 702-xxx-xxxx
E: brxxxxx@yahoo.com

**All Star Poker Challenge Pitch v1.3.ppt**


From: Dan Michalski
Subject: Re: Poke show
To: “Brandon”
Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 1:45 AM

Hey Brandon, just following up to see how this has been going.

Is the project still alive? Curious …


From: Brandon
Subject: Re: Poke show
To: “Dan Michalski”
Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 7:39 AM

Dan,

We are still pitching it. GSN took a pass but the guy we pitched it to was leaving the network so we’re going to pitch it again. Was hopeful with ESPN the guy there loved the concept, thought it would be a Great lead in for their WSOP broadcast, he presented it to the network exec. Sadly they took a pass. We got it to people at FSN and NBC no word yet.

People that see the presentation and show concept love the idea its a matter of getting the big wigs to green light the project. Dan I may be bias but it would be the best Poker Show on TV if we can get it on the air. It would be the American Idol of Poker(huge) and give the TV Poker industry a much needed boost since their cookie cutter approach is ruining the market. I’m attaching a raw version of the presentation with narration. Thx for your interest and any help would be appreciated. My goal is to get this on the air and give the poker community a chance at the WSOP they other wise might not have.

PLease feel free to call me, as I love talking about the Show.

Brandon McSmith
C: 702-xxx-xxxx
H: 702-xxx-xxxx
E: brxxxxx@yahoo.com


On Nov 29, 2008, at 8:38 AM, Brandon wrote:

Dan’

Just wondering if you got a chance to see my Poker Game Show concept presentation.

Brandon McSmith
C: 702-xxx-xxxx
H: 702-xxx-xxxx
E: brxxxxx@yahoo.com


From: Dan Michalski
Subject: Re:
To: brxxxxx@yahoo.com
Date: Sunday, November 30, 2008, 3:33 AM

just watched it. i love the concept, and can assure you it woulda been a hit in 2006. Not so sure now … poker books, gadgets, and tv shows are an almost impossible sale. but if/when the online law changes, there will likely be a phase 2 of the poker boom … (my prediction is Q4 of 2009) … at which point this show could work, which might allow you to slowly work in the pitch in preparation.

another possibility is to go after European TV.

creatively … i’d love to see you mix in some more fun behind the doors … playing against a monkey, someone off the street, a member of the audience, the mother of a player, whoever. maybe a breakdown of one or two known champion pros, one or two unknown pros (still good — and chance for them to make their name), one or two of the randoms mentioned above, and maybe a celebrity non-pro … whether that be montel williams or any of the people used in VH-1 specials.

also, you have a mistake in the current pitch … you say the challenger needs one of two aces, but a 7 or 8 would also win him/her the pot … and because both those cards are diamonds, there’s no flush threat if they were to pair.


On Nov 30, 2008, at 4:15 AM, Brandon wrote:

I realized that after they did the voice over but you still got the concept. I think if airs now it would be a hit. It’s a show that gives back to the poker playing community. That’s who I had in mind when I created it. Every poker show was pros against pros they gave nothing back. Broken Bottle Production is still nery hopeful about GSN and we’re going to try to pitch it to BBC World Wide. Everyone they pitch it to likes the concept and they love the fact it’s simple and easy to follow. That’s why it was so disappointing when ESPN turned it down. Our contact there loved it and thought it would be a great lead in to there WSOP airing, he actually pitched it to the decision makers who sadly took a pass. We feel it’s a good should and would be a high ratings getter for a network. We are going to keep plugging away.

Thx for your your advice.

Brandon McSmith
C: 702-xxx-xxxx
H: 702-xxx-xxxx
E: brxxxxx@yahoo.com


On Nov 30, 2008, at 4:22 AM, Dan Michalski wrote:

i agree and think you should (keep plugging away) … i’m just saying it will be falling on a lot of deaf ears right now. paying the price for so many bad shows before it, and a general sense that poked doesn’t draw the viewers any more.

do you have all the other pieces in place — the pros ready to play, the tv production company, etc?


  • Kevin Mathers

    Face the Ace is the most disappointing show in poker, far from the worst.

  • John

    Would like to know who the idiot host is talking during the hand played….Needs an ace on the river to win? What happen to the other 6 outs the player has against the pro? If my poker is correct i would think a 8 or 7 would pay the player also….LMFAO

  • John

    and this is really sad to say but how could i possibly be the first to catch this?

  • DanM

    john, you will see brandon and i discussed this in our email exchange on Nov. 30, ’08.

    also, the first version of the video i had in this post didn’t have audio, so it was tougher to catch for the original readers of this post. (i knew i had gotten two versions — just took me a while to find. people send me lots of shit.)

  • Marvin C

    I don’t understand why anyone would think that we want to watch a pro against an amatuer. It’s bad enought that half the pros play like amatuers or can’t shut up. It makes for great TV when the worst player at the table, Phill Laak, doesn’t shut up. Do I want to see the Cowboys play SMU? I don’t think so. At least the WSOP shows mostly pros and well played hands or hands that eliminate players.