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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Writer Says Disney’s ‘Mr. Young’ Was His Idea

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A writer filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against Disney, William Morris Entertainment and others, claiming the Disney show "Mr. Young" is based on his copyrighted script.

Click here to read Courthouse News' Entertainment Law Digest.

Emir Tiar and his company E.T. Radcliffe LLC sued The Walt Disney Co., Thunderbird Films, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, talent agent Richard Weitz and Canadian writer-producer Dan Signer in Federal Court, alleging copyright infringement, breach of contract, unfair competition and eight other counts.

Tiar says Signer based "Mr. Young" on Tiar's show bible and pilot script for his unproduced comedy series "Student Teacher," about a middle school student who takes over teaching duties in his class.

In the summer of 2009, Tiar says he delivered his script in person to William Morris after he was introduced to Weitz by a Hollywood producer.

Weitz at first seemed interested in "Student Teacher," but Tiar claims he later dismissed it as "too 'high concept' for American audiences." Tiar says Weitz never returned the script or the show bible, a reference document often used to pitch new series.

More than a year after Tiar hand-delivered the materials to William Morris, Signer registered the pilot show "Mr. Young" in Canada, according to the lawsuit. The show is now in its third season.

It's not clear from the complaint how Signer, a William Morris client, allegedly came across the script. But Tiar guesses that someone at the agency passed it to Signer, or the agency "failed to secure the materials properly, thereby allowing Signer to obtain access through stealth."

"It is no coincidence that Signer came up with an idea for a television program about a student who becomes a teacher, that the school's janitor mysteriously appears and disappears to give advice to the student teacher and provide comedic value, that the student teacher is menaced by a bully and other students who engage in tomfoolery, that the love interest enjoys science fiction, that the student teacher's friends, parents and love interest give him advice that leads to comedic results," the 28-page complaint states, referring to some of the alleged similarities between "Student Teacher" and "Mr. Young."

With the help of William Morris, Signer was able to sell the rights to Thunderbird Films and then to Disney. The show premiered on YTV in Canada in March 2011, on Disney XD in the United States, and in 31 other countries, according to the lawsuit.

Tiar says he contacted Thunderbird Films and Weitz after he saw "Mr. Young" on television, but the production company brushed him off, while Weitz "falsely claimed" that he had returned the script and show bible.

The writer says he also emailed William Morris principals Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, but "they looked the other way, failed to respond, and did nothing to assist Tiar in resolving the issue."

Tiar is represented by Linda McAleer of Kennedy Law.

Neither William Morris nor Walt Disney immediately responded to requests for comment.

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