ABC Show Is a 'Big Brother' Ripoff, CBS Says
LOS ANGELES (CN) - CBS claims in Federal Court that ABC's reality TV show "Life in a Glass House" is almost a "carbon copy" of its hit series "Big Brother."
The network says ABC recruited 19 former producers and staff to replicate "every key aspect of 'Big Brother.'"
ABC's parent company, The Walt Disney Co., is also named as a defendant to the copyright-infringement case, which seeks $500,000 for the "blatant theft."
CBS Broadcasting also asked the judge to order ABC to stop development and production of "Life in Glass House."
"If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then CBS should take pride in ABC's latest reality television project, 'Life in a Glass House,'" the complaint states.
ABC is allegedly attempting to capitalize on "unique success" of "Big Brother."
But ABC spokeswoman Erin Felentzer told Courthouse News there "is no merit to this lawsuit."
"The differences between 'Glass House' and 'Big Brother' are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from Glass House's interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting edge technologies," Felentzer said in an email.
The widely successful "Big Brother" television franchise originated in the Netherlands in the late 1990s, and was acquired and adapted in many countries around the world. The show's contestants are filmed nonstop as they live together in a house, isolated from the outside world.
CBS says that at least three of its former staff members hold senior positions on "Life in the Glass House," and disclosed trade secrets to ABC, including details on how "Big Brother" is filmed and produced.
Ex-CBS staff include former "Big Brother" supervising producers Corie Henson and Michael O'Sullivan, and executive producer Kenny Rosen, the lawsuit states. The network says that those defendants disclosed its trade secrets at ABC's bidding, breaching nondisclosure agreements they signed while working on "Big Brother."
American Broadcasting Companies, Disney Enterprises, ABC dba Disney/ABC Television Group, and ABC's in-house production company, Keep Calm and Carry On Productions, are also named defendants.
CBS is represented by Scott Edelman with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. It filed claims for copyright infringement, trade-secret misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
An upcoming 14th season of "Big Brother" will premiere in the summer.
Edelman could not immediately be reached for comment.