LOS ANGELES (CN) – Screenwriter Richard Fronduto says Disney and ABC based “Hannah Montana” on an idea he pitched six years before the TV show’s premier. Fronduto claims “Hannah Montana” is based on his copyrighted screenplay, “The Secret Life of Cindy,” which features a 13-year-old girl with a pop star alter ego, a single parent-manager, and a 13-year-old best girlfriend.
Fronduto says he pitched his idea to Disney and ABC in 2000. In his Superior Court complaint, Fronduto says the companies were interested, and asked him to submit “log lines,” two- to three-sentence synopses of future episodes. He says he complied, and the defendants asked him to expand his half-hour teleplay into a 2-hour pilot. Fronduto says agreed to the proposal, but suggested that the defendants have someone else do the writing.
That was the last time Fronduto heard from Disney or ABC, according to his complaint.
Fronduto says he continued to send the defendants revised drafts, through his agent, and that actor Kirk Cameron was interested in a role in his 2001 version, the fourth draft, then called “The Family Business.” And he says actor Colin Mortensen agreed to appear in his 2003 version, also called “The Family Business.”
Fronduto seeks damages and credit as the show’s creator on all future “Hannah Montana” publications and broadcasts. He is represented by Paul Alvarez.
Fronduto is not the first litigant to claim he created “Hannah Montana,” which has produced a marketing bonanza.
In 2007, writer Buddy Sheffield sued Disney, claiming that he came up with the idea for the show. And in 2008, the show’s currently credited co-creator, Michael Poryes, sued Disney, claiming that the company stiffed him for millions in franchise revenue.