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April 24, 2008




I was angry when you so overzealously attacked our production of "The Farnsworth Invention" a few months back. Your decision to try and tear us apart via a rag like the Post was very disappointing seeing as you and I had met and (I thought) had an understanding as to the importance of this story and this life being shown to the world. Sadly, after months of aggression, it became clear that you'd only be satisfied if your version was told. And if people knew that you wrote a book.

I didn't write you back then because at the time I didn't think you deserved a response to your ridiculous behavior. A while later the show closed and I went back to work in Los Angeles and forgot about you. Until, of course, I was forwarded this new little article from your farnavision site. I gotta be honest, man... if there's one person in this world who's support I do not want it's yours. You blew it. I mean, we were about to tell the story! We were going to finally give Philo the attention he deserved but you were so angry that our play wasn't based on your book that you set out to destroy us. But Paul, all you did was destroy Philo. Again.

-jimmi simpson


_I_ blew it? The play closed because _I_ talked to a reporter from the New York Post?

You're right, I really have no sense of my vast power and influence.

What does this make me, the Reverend Wright of the Jimmi Simpson campaign? Sorry, you still have my support. I thought you did a great job (with what you had to work with).

Nice to hear from you, in any event.


Kent M Farnsworth

ALL of the people who emailed me at the Farnsworth Archives re. the play, thought you stole the stage … you (Jimi) have large fan club out there as a result of THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION.

I think a blurry line exists between artistic license, and artistic integrity. An understanding exists between audience and the stage play that this is historically. And the response I have read when hearing that the play culminates in an event which is unbearable falsehood: in reality Farnsworth wins the patent battle, in the play the patent was awarded to RCA/Zworykin. Playing fast and lose with that is a compromise with artistic integrity and has nothing you could call artistic license.

I met with Aaron in 1991 (I think) after a phone call from Zollo Productions and arrangements were made to have a five hour session where Pem (Farnsworth) would tell all the interesting anecdotes ahe could, and if the conversation drifted off the central theme we should move the discussion back to the main theme.

We, the ZPI fellows, Aaron, Pem and (my wife) Linda were all sitting in a sidewalk café having lunch, I brought a point that the story is so dramatic that it works best when it tells the story without deviating from the facts as depicted in Pem’s book, DISTANT VISION. All present were enthusiastic on that point. At the end of the visit, Linda handed a copy of the book he was to adapt to the screen, so he could read it on the plane home.

I understand that what works on stage, is different than on the silver screen. Departures from timeline, and stuff like that. Philo T Farnsworth was never a drunk. And the drinking thing came much later in the story. And when he did drink he stayed out of contact with anyone save Pem. But while that bothers me, I recognize on a stage your character was easier to play as a drunk.

But facts on critical points this work profess to tell, are false, you have insulted your audience, and have compromised artistic integrity. If I were in your position and read up on the character, I would have walked of the stage to avoid being caught on-record as saluting Sorkin’s play which will always be remembered for its invented history.

Everyone who wrote me about their experience seeing the play, talks of never really knowing the real story of these events which preceded commercial television … they are buying all of this as fact and will use it in future as fact. There is an important responsibility when so ardently implying that this is a story based on what happened between the years 1921 though 1939 …

As far as the Post article(s), they contacted me, and they contacted Paul Schatzkin, we did not contact them. Once you have a reporter on the phone, it really does not matter, because if you do not fill them in on the facts as you see them, you come off as hiding something, and then you could be bit in the butt any number of ways.

Everybody Paul Schatzkin talks with in the cast and producing staff really bristle when he cites historical facts … why? Unless trepidations or guilty feelings are involved.

I regret all the hard work on the part of the director, cast and stage crew (costumers too), I know from what Paul has told me that it was a tight production, and I hope my blogs had nothing to affect those efforts.

I do not think anyone can not tip their hat to the monolog in A FEW GOOD MEN, and WEST WING was a delight … miles ahead of anything else on the tube. I hate have to disagree with his screenplay, in the face all that good work.


Kent M Farnsworth

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