'Black-ish' Creator Sued for Fraud by Ex-Writing Partner

The suit claims the ABC series is based on a 2006 script that Kenya Barris developed with a friend for VH1.
ABC
'Black-ish'

Anthony Anderson is up for an Emmy for his portrayal of Andre "Dre" Johnson on Black-ish, but just a week before the awards show, a director is claiming the character's life is based on his own, and that he hasn't been paid or credited for it. 

Bryan Barber says he met Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris in 1996 while they were attending Clark Atlanta University and the two became "close, personal friends" before each moving on to become writers.

A decade later, Barber claims the duo jointly developed a script for VH1 about "the black experience as seen through the lens of a successful, creative and affluent black man working in the predominantly white entertainment industry" that was based on his own life experiences. VH1 stopped development on the project later that year. 

In a lawsuit filed Friday in L.A. County Superior Court, Barber claims Barris "hijacked" the ideas behind that script and used them to write the pilot for his ABC series Black-ish.

"[Barber] was shocked to discover the pilot was substantially similar (and nearly identical) in plot and sequence, character, mood and place, and dialogue to the Original Untitled Script that he and Barris had delivered to VH-1 in 2006," states the complaint. Those similarities include everything from an awkward white colleague who is trying to "be cool and act black" to the protagonist's wife being a biracial doctor named Rainbow.

Barber is suing Barris for breach of confidentiality and fraud, among other claims. He's seeking at least $1 million in damages, plus compensation and credit as writer and creator of the series. Also being sued is Principato-Young Entertainment, which is Barris' management company and a production company on the show.

Reps for Barris have not yet responded to a request for comment. 

The full complaint is below. 

comments powered by Disqus