Is 'Schmucks' tonsorial trademark infringement?
Since we had no intentions of going to see the Steve Carell and Paul Rudd movie "Dinner for Schmucks" (you can read LAT film critic Kenneth Turan's review of it here), we probably would never have noticed the beard Doppelgänger unless our friend (who unfortunately had suffered through it) brought it to our attention.
Jonas, one of the photographers that shoots the European runway shows for us, called to let us know he thought he'd seen one of the whiskered wonders we've written about appear as a bit player in the movie.
He was referring to a character called "Chuck, the Beard Champion" played by Rick Overton (above right), and once we saw a photo, we instantly knew the root of the confusion.
Overton's faux facial fur was groomed into something extremely similar to multiple-title-winning, international beard champion Willi Chevalier's signature candelabra coif (above left) that we have indeed mentioned many times here at Bearded & Tschorn.
Although Chuck sports four "pogono-prongs" per side and Willi wings it with three per cheek, that distinction is -- literally as well as figuratively -- splitting hairs. It seems that the beard -- if not the character -- was based on the German and his champion chin.
Too bad there's not a standing to sue for tonsorial trademark infringement, because we have a feeling Chevalier would win that kind of hair suit -- and not just by a whisker, either.
And Hollywood, we'll give you a little tip: If you think your next TV or movie project could benefit from a champion beard in the background -- even for purposes of gentle mockery -- why not go authentic and hire an honest-to-goodness champion beard? These guys are full-on exhibitionists -- and most would love nothing more that to share the follicular feats of derring-do with the world. (We can even put you in touch with them, just drop us a line.)
But please, don't Bogart the beard -- especially one as carefully tended and instantly recognizable as Chevalier's. It's like you're stealing part of his soul.
It's pogonic piracy, plain and simple.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: Willi Chevalier's trademark tonsorial tusks (left, credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times) seem to be the inspiration for the faux facial fur of Chuck, the Beard Champion (Rick Overton) in "Dinner for Schmucks" (right, credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace).