This past summer, the producers of a new independent sitcom, The Chin Chens, posted a trailer for their new show that was just plain awful.  Now, word comes from Atlanta, where the show was being produced, that the behind-the-scenes shenanigans were probably more interesting.

That’s because three people tied to the studio, Bright Ideas, have been charged with multiple counts of securities fraud in a scheme the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office alleges cost investors more than $2 million.  Perhaps if these investors had just seen the dreadful pilots, they would have known this was all a huge scam.

According to this article in the Atlanta Constitution:

William Hollins, chief executive of Bright Ideas Entertainment LLC; the firm’s president, Daniel High; and a lawyer, Tene Davis, are accused of soliciting investments in the company by making false assertions in contracts to convince investors their money was fully guaranteed against loss.

Hollins, High and Davis face multiple charges of theft by deception, securities fraud, selling unregistered securities and sale of securities by an unregistered agent, according to an announcement Wednesday by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Bright Ideas developed two sitcoms that failed to gain traction with mainstream networks. One, “My Parents, My Sister & Me,” featured actress Robin Givens.

The company announced a plan in 2009 to hire up to 350 and expand a Norcross production facility in a move state economic development officials and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce cheered.

In an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle at the time, Bright Ideas touted the economic development potential of Georgia’s lucrative production tax credits and the story said its $20 million expansion would create the state’s largest animation studio.

Actor Ric Reitz, who appeared in “My Parents, My Sister & Me,” told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he started with “high hopes”about the show.

Reitz said the group started having money trouble and failed to fully pay actors, production staff and vendors.

“Over time, it started to become uncomfortable,” he said. “They started to say things that obviously did not come true.”

Ten episodes of “My Parents” were completed before production halted.

In an AJC story last year, Hollins detailed development of a planned sitcom called “Chin Chens,” about an Asian-American family.

Officials with the Secretary of State’s Office said about 30 investors, mostly from Georgia, were solicited.

According to a filing last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bright Ideas and an affiliated company, My Parents, My Sister & Me LLC, were attempting to raise $3 million and $3.2 million, respectively. Bright Ideas had raised $500,000, and the other firm had raised $2.4 million, though the first sales for each occurred years earlier.

Imagine if that money had actually made it into the hands of people who knew what they were doing.

 

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