July 19, 2011 1:10pm PT by Matthew Belloni
CBS Sues Writer of NBC's 'The Firm' Claiming Show Was Stolen (Exclusive)
Calling Mitch McDeere: A nasty legal fued has broken out over the upcoming TV series based on characters in John Grisham’s seminal legal thriller The Firm.
CBS today sued the writer-producer of the upcoming NBC series claiming the project was originally developed for CBS and was taken to the Peacock network without permission.
According to the complaint, filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lukas Reiter and Entertainment One developed The Firm, which picks up where the Grisham novel leaves off, for CBS under an exclusive contract. CBS says it paid Reiter $250,000 and other compensation.
The lawsuit says Reiter later asked if he could take the project elsewhere and CBS said no but “Entertainment One and Reiter have moved full speed ahead, in direct violation of CBS’s rights,” according to the suit.
The network claims the project, which was then sold to NBC and is set to air in
the fall midseason with Josh Lucas starring, is substantially similar to the version developed for CBS.
“The question in this lawsuit is whether a prodction studio and writer may re-sell and exploit a television project that the same writer already sold to another studio,” according to the complaint. “Basic principles of contract and tort law clearly prohibit this sort of double-dealing, yet this is precisely what Defendants have done.”
We've reached out to Reiter and Entertainment One for comment.
NBC is not a defendant in the the suit, which alleges causes of action for tortious interference with contract, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.