Consider the case of Jerry and Esther Hicks and their disembodied pal(s), Abraham, who are big celebrities in the Law of Attraction community, and were key players in the mega-hit infomercial The Secret. Or at least they were in the original version of the ’mercial. Alas, much to the dismay of multitudes of Secret fans, the new Secret will be Hicks-free. Esther, the member of the Hicks duo who actually channels Abraham, will not be in the "new, improved" version of The Secret (which has just been released, and is not to be confused with the sequel, The Secret Part 2, or Beyond The Secret, or something of that nature, scheduled to go into production early in 2007).
It seems that The Secret franchise has taken off in such a big way that the Hicks’ original contract, drafted in part by the intellectual properties attorney they were smart enough to hire in the beginning, is no longer adequate. If I’m reading the message below correctly, The Secret’s producers wanted the Hicks to forever relinquish the intellectual property rights covered by their initial contract. The Hicks claim that they were never in The Secret for the money, but they made "staggering amounts" of the stuff anyway from their participation. There’s lots more money to be made off the project, but to do so, they’d basically have to sell their souls down the river, or at least Down Under*. And so, reluctantly and lovingly – and, of course, with the advice of Abraham – they pulled out.
Not to worry, though. The new version of The Secret is three minutes longer than the original, and the space vacated by Esther Hicks and Abraham has been filled in with some of the other contemporary
The message below, widely being posted on the LOA forums (I first found it here), was supposedly copied from the Abraham-Hicks website. Now, however, it is nowhere on the site. Read it yourself, if you haven’t already, and see what you think. And while you’re reading, notice that the Aussie TV station that had planned to air The Secret (presumably as part of the original agreement) apparently changed their minds somewhere down the line, so the Secret producers had to find a new way to recoup their investment.
Which kinda adds some new perspective to the story, as told recently to ABCNews.com, about the origins of (or at least the motives behind) The Secret’s viral marketing campaign. Joe Vitale, one of the stars of The Secret, told ABCNews.com that the producers held the movie back for months to "let the world buzz. Let the world keep talking. Let the world keep passing this around, which is what everybody did. They said, 'Have you seen this movie? Have you seen this trailer?' And they would pass it to their friends. Their friends would pass it to other friends. This thing went viral in the most amazing way."
As I said, you have to read between the lines. And maybe I'm reading too much, but somehow I don't think so. Here's the Hicks' message:
The Television Movie
From Jerry & Esther
Nearly two years ago, while on-board our Mexican Riviera Cruise, Prime Time Productions did an interview with Jerry and me, and with Abraham, in response to an agreement that we had all carefully crafted together for a television show that was to be aired in Australia called "The Secret." We were told that "The Secret" would be based on our work and that they would seek out other teachers who were in alignment with our work. We reviewed, on DVD, two other projects that had been created by this production company and found them to be beautifully done, and good-feeling pieces.
Since Jerry and I had never before stepped into the public forum in that way with our Abraham work, we followed the advice of our publisher, who introduced us to an intellectual property rights attorney who assisted us in drafting the agreement which would guide our involvement with this project. He explained to us that although he had included in the intellectual property rights license agreement that we were to receive a small percentage of the net profit from this project, and 10% of direct video sales, that it was very unlikely that (from his experience) we would receive any substantial compensation from our participation, and we were not unhappy with that arrangement. Our decision to do it was not motivated from the idea of making money from it, (unless there was profit to share) but because we were stimulated by the excitement of this beautiful producer, and when we met her and her beautiful crew, we easily loved them all.
As time went by, it became apparent that the television network that we had been told would air "The Secret" was not going to do it, at least not right now, and so the production company began seeking other ways of marketing their beautiful project to recoup their very large investment. While Jerry and I were uncomfortable with what felt to us like a rather aggressive marketing campaign (just not our style, nothing wrong with it) we stayed focused on our busy schedule and really had very little to do with what was happening with "The Secret."
Eventually we received an email from the producer of "The Secret" lovingly explaining (we never have received correspondence from her that was anything other than extremely loving) that the contract that we had all agreed upon and signed was no longer sufficient for their further distribution of the project in the areas they were now seeking to distribute the project, and that it would be necessary for us (Jerry and Esther) to relinquish our intellectual property rights in these areas forever and redo our contract or they would have to reluctantly edit us out. It was clear, from the lovingly written email that they did not want to edit us out, but after conferring with our publisher, and then our intellectual property rights attorney, and finally with Abraham, allowing them to edit us out was the path of least resistance. Abraham's words were very clear and easy to understand: "Whenever you are given an ultimatum that says, 'if you don't do this, then we will have to do such and such,' it is best that you just let it go and move on. Otherwise there is always another, and this, and this, and this?"
Now, it seems there is quite a firestorm surrounding our dis-involvment with "The Secret". We are receiving so many emails and letters and face-to-face questions from disappointed people regarding this, so we want you to understand how we feel about it.
We think that "The Secret" clearly and beautifully presents Abraham's Law of Attraction in a way that is easy to understand. It is filled with stunning beauty and beautiful people, many of whom are our personal friends. We love the way "The Secret" moves us, and we feel joy rise within our hearts every time we watch it. We feel the power of it, and the clarity of it, and we love "The Secret".
It is our desire that, rather than being upset that our part of "The Secret" will be omitted in future offerings of it, that instead you enjoy the original Abraham version, as it is, at this time, and that you look forward to what other incredible things these talented people may bring to you. These are people who clearly care about the planet, who want to be of value, and who, in our opinion, are of tremendous value.
Financially speaking, we have been very well paid for our participation with this project? which has amounted to a staggering amount of money. And if money were the most important factor, we assure you, we would have found some way of staying involved.
So, we're out here doing our thing, enjoying the incredible expansion of the message of Abraham, and are so looking forward to the wonderful things that are in our future. Abraham says to us and to you:
It is our desire that you be easy about all of this. There is nothing that has gone wrong here. Everything is in alignment. The Universe will offer a steady stream of uplifting avenues to all of you.
There is great love here for you, Abraham.
Jerry & Esther
Gee, could it be that The Secret really is more about making money for its producers than about anything else? Ya think? Not that there's anything wrong with making money, as I've said before. And The Secret is certainly a marketing success story. But I submit that it does not hold the secret key to guaranteed wealth for anyone except its producers and its stars. For just about everyone else, it's just one long sales pitch by New-Wage hustledorks, with some feel-good platitudes and pretty visuals thrown in.
Now, whatever you think about channeling – whether you think it’s legit or it's just bad ventriloquism (as magician Penn Jillette once said) – lots of folks like the Hicks. A good friend of mine has met them and says they are genuinely nice people. And you don't have to read very deeply between the lines to see that Jerry and Esther found the aggressive marketing of The Secret rather distasteful. At any rate, it seems clear that the Hicks are taking the high road in all this. (I, however, am under no such constraints.)
It seems, however, that not all LOA fans are buying into the channeling shtick. A guy named Matt, who ordered a CD directly from Jerry and Esther Hicks’ website, had this to say on the Santa Monica, CA Secret/Abraham-Hicks meetup forum:
As I'm becoming a strong believer and advocate of LOA, I must admit that this CD has pushed me back a couple of steps in my faith of the "universal law." First, Jerry Hicks makes me pause as he mentions the Ouija Board as an inspiration for his teachings. Second, Esther Hicks who's seemingly the sane one totally loses me when her guiding spirit, Abraham, addresses the listener through her with a fantasy-land accent speaking in almost cryptic like English. It's comical and upsetting at the same time. I feel duped for buying this CD. The message is consistent with the Secret, but the vehicle that's delivering the message is ridiculous.
Has anyone heard this CD? Can anyone share with me some sage words to put this hocus pocus charlatan like gobbly gook into perspective?
Other forum members responded, and it was obvious not all of them were convinced by Esther’s performance either. The overall sentiment, though, seemed to be, "Don’t throw out the message because of the messenger."
In any event, it’s possible that The Secret sales will not suffer too grievously without the Hicks. Actually, I had a fleeting thought that perhaps the channeling was a bit over the top for mainstream consumption, and maybe Esther and Abraham were becoming an embarrassment to The Secret producers. But then I thought, "No, that’s ridiculous." After all, the wildly successful What The Bleep Do We Know has JZ Knight, who was on Part 1 of the Larry King "Positive Thinking" infomercial. JZ made her fortune by convincing people that she channels a 35,000-year-old entity named Ramtha. You’d think Larry would have ripped her a new one for this, but that didn’t happen. Obviously, channeling is not a deal-breaker with spiritual
I predict that The Secret will continue to be successful in its new, Hicks-free incarnation. Now that rumbles of disillusionment are being heard, however, I predict that LOA’ers are going to split off into various factions, and eventually more of them will become increasingly disillusioned. There will be Secret imitators and rumors of Secret imitators. But sooner or later, the next "amazing breakthrough" – something completely different from The Secret, and, of course, fiercely copyrighted – will be released to a waiting world. Oh, yeah, and I predict that the creator of The Secret will continue to show up on Maui and everywhere else wearing short black skirts and sporting bright shiny gewgaws on her forehead (makes her look more spiritual, don’t you know). And I predict that the spiritual Lothario Tilak, that tall, dark and mysterious blower of lights, will be seen on Maui again, and perhaps in future versions of The Secret…
I am hardly what you would call an unimpeachable source, but, y’know, I think I do all right for someone who doesn’t have an Ascended Master at my shoulder, whispering to me of the future.
* The creator and producer of The Secret, which the Hicks don’t name in their message, is Aussie
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