Spinal Tap Blinks in Showdown with Priggish Lego Execs


All Spinal Tap wanted was to pay tribute to the young man who paid tribute to them. And though it worked for a while on the band's recent "Unwigged and Unplugged" tour, that honor won't make the commemorative tour DVD set for release next month. Tough break, but that's apparently what happens when you've got Legos singing about penis size, sex with minors and "not a dry seat in the house."

The legendary mock-rockers had borrowed a well-known YouTube video (below) for its hit "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight," indeed featuring the band's Lego proxies in the throes of unabashed stop-motion rocking. And when Harry Shearer -- as Tap bassist Derek Smalls -- suggested a Legoesque C-cupped-hand salute as opposed to the standard heavy-metal devil horns, his audience indulged him. The cameras captured it all, the joke was complete, on to the next one.

Almost, anyway. When approached to clear the Lego band's appearance on the tour DVD, the toy company balked. "[I]t had some inappropriate language, and the tone wasn't appropriate for our target audience of kids 6 to 12," a spokeswoman told the NYT, arguing that it hasn't yanked the YouTube video because of its "less-commercial" aspects. Shearer today called it "Lego Kafka," and Tap's copyright lawyer argued it even though he believes it's fair use, no one wants to pay to fight Lego in court.

And so it is. The Rolling Stones signed off on their likenesses in the film, but a bunch of plastic bricks are out. Expect only the lingering disappointment of a missed opportunity and the sadness of losing a true fan moment to history -- not to mention the typically Tap-pian tenderness of toys singing, "You're sweet but you're just four feet / And you still got your baby teeth." For the life of me, I don't see the problem.

· Lego Rejects a Bit Part in a Spinal Tap DVD [NYT]