Can Barnaby Jones Save The Human Race?

I’ve stumbled on something extraordinary … a BARNABY JONES novel written by Buddy Ebsen with Darlene Quinn and "published" by Authorhouse, the print-on-demand vanity press. I couldn’t resist buying the  $4.95 ebook version. What’s interesting about SIZZLING COLD CASE is that it was published in 2006, three years after Ebsen’s death, and is copyrighted by Ebsen & Quinn, even though they don’t own the copyright to the TV series its based on.

In other words, it’s fanfiction…and it’s being sold on Amazon and on Authorhouse’s site.  That’s a big no-no, as Lori Jareo could tell you. She wrote her own unlicensed STAR WARS novel and sold it on Amazon…and was promptly slapped down by Lucasfilm.

But this blatant violation of copyright isn’t likely to turn Quinn into another Jareo, mainly because BARNABY JONES isn’t a huge media property like STAR WARS, isn’t protected by lawyers as vigilant as those at LucasFilm, and is based on notes from Ebsen, who played Barnaby Jones, the elderly private eye. That doesn’t mean Ebsen actually owns the character…but hiding behind Ebsen’s ghost and his heirs will probably protect Quinn from a cease-and-desist letter.  Besides, it’s not like anybody gives a damn about BARNABY JONES…and that probably includes the studio that owns the property. Can you imagine any studio suing Buddy Ebsen’s family for publishing and selling "Barnaby Jones" fanfic? I can’t.  Even so, publishing the book and copyrighting the character of Barnaby Jones as if it was their own was a pretty ballsy thing for Quinn and the Ebsen estate to do. 

I must confess that I haven’t bothered reading the book. I couldn’t get past Quinn’s fan lyrics to the "Barnaby Jones" theme in the opening pages. I was laughing too hard:

Though many dangers now surround you
And evil lurks beneath the night
One man will fight the wrong around you
And strike a blow to make it right
When naked terror rides the highways
And sudden death waits in the street,
one man alone will roam the byways
confronting crime he must defeat
Barnaby, Barnaby — what driving force has set your pace?
Barnaby, Barnaby — can one man save the human race?

You can sing along with this:

9 thoughts on “Can Barnaby Jones Save The Human Race?”

  1. Shortly before Ebsen died a few years back, I heard he was writing a Barnaby Jones novel. I wondered what happened to it. Now we know.

  2. Thanks, Lee. Now I can’t get the line “When naked terror rides the highways” out of my head. And what’s this about one man saving the human race? Did Barnaby Jones fight aliens?
    I can’t believe that the studio that does control the property wouldn’t have been interested in a tie-in “written” by Barnaby himself. Seems like a no-brainer.

  3. I’m mildly fascinated with the need some folks have to put lyrics to instrumental themes. I wonder if anyone’s ever written words for the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE or MAN FROM UNCLE themes?
    As for people caring about Barnaby Jones — don’t you think there might be some interest in licensed novels based on a canceled TV series in which an elderly professional who solves crimes is played by the former star of a ’60’s TV sitcom?

  4. Okay, I have sung through the theme twice and still can’t figure out where the two “Barnaby, Barnaby” lines go. (Maybe the book should include a demo of Quinn singing it.)

  5. AuthorHouse is a joke. The sad part is that they just absorbed iUniverse, a company that strove to be the best and most ethical company in the self-publishing industry. While Lee is very critical of all self-publishing, he did utilize iUniverse to republish his Unsold Television Pilots books through the companies association with the Authors Guild, a free program to memembers of that organization. Now iUniverse exists in name only.
    Many may have heard that iUniverse is closing its Lincoln office and moving to Authorhouse headquarters in Bloomington, IN. The purchase of iU by AuthorHouse sullied the former’s reputation and the move is the final nail in the coffin. iUniverse will continue in name only. As one poster on the Lincoln Journal-Star website put it:
    “The real losers in this ploy will be the authors. Employees of iUniverse in the Lincoln office will recover. They are talented, exceptional people who do not deserve the insults they have received this past week. To a person each one is dedicated to serving their authors. This won’t be true once the office closes. ASI will institute major changes in procedures. Forget about having a single person to talk to. AuthorHouse is a call-center business. The label ‘iUniverse’ may be on the product, but it will be AuthorHouse processes doing the work. AH pays less, provides less service and is less customer service oriented. There is no sign this will change, since the talent who know how to do this are not going to Bloomington. All I can say is, “Bloomington watch out! You’re next when ASI has sucked out all they can from you.”
    iUniverse is dead, sold out by its CEO.


Leave a Comment