Fox sued over ‘New Girl’ for alleged copyright infringement

By Holly Bogardus,

Fox's New Girl is in the midst of a legal battle against screenwriters who claim the pilot was plagiarized from their own script.

Screenwriters Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold filed a lawsuit in January claiming they are the true creators of the Fox hit. They are suing show creator Elizabeth Meriwether, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, executive-producers Peter Chernin and Jacob Kasdan, as well as 21st Century Fox, Inc. The case is being filed for “blatant plagiarism” and intellectual property theft.

The news broke on The Hollywood Reporter that the suit claims that the show's pilot was stolen from proposed television script series Square One.

Counts and Gold say their script was passed to Meriwether and former Fox chief Peter Chernin, both of whom were represented by WME. The agency showed considerable interest in the script, and the writers even suggested Zooey Deschanel as the lead. After WME ceased contact with the writers, they were shocked to see their concept turned into a show in 2011, credited to Meriwether.

In the lawsuit, Counts revealed that the work was based off of her real-life experience when she discovered her husband was having an affair. The aftermath of the event led to Counts moving into a three-man bachelor pad. She states that her roommates were the inspiration for Square One.

The 92-page complaint includes an extensive list of alleged similarities between the projects, according to TV Guide. The list includes:

  • Both protagonists are awkward, quirky women around the age of 30
  • In each work there is a cynical roommate who is a bartender that becomes a love interest for the protagonist
  • The best friend in each work is named 'CeCe" or has the initials "C.C.”
  • Roommates in each work act out their idiosyncrasies in identical ways.
  • In January 2012, the defendants’ attorneys moved to make a $10,000 settlement to Counts and Gold in hopes of silencing and preventing them from taking further legal action. Counts and Gold’s attorney recommended they take the money, and was then terminated by the duo.

    The writers replaced their attorney with Andrew Ryan and are now seeking satisfactory compensation. This includes monetary reimbursement, credit as the true creators, and a public apology.

    image: Fox

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