June 14, 2012 1:21pm PT by Daniel Miller, Eriq Gardner
CBS Says 'Glass House' Web Stream Proves It's a 'Big Brother' Copycat
In advance of a big hearing tomorrow that will determine if CBS can convince a judge to shut down ABC's Glass House, CBS has fired a new salvo.
On Thursday, attorneys for CBS filed a supplemental declaration from copyright expert Jeff Rovin, who claims in the 11-page document that ABC's program is a "copy" of CBS's Big Brother. Rovin reviewed Glass House footage that ABC released on the Internet. Rovin's declaration is adorned with pictures and he tries to make the case that the new series is substantially similar to CBS' long-running reality TV hit
Rovin alleges that Glass House copies everything from Big Brother's camera angles to the way it introduces characters to viewers and even a copycat "conversational pool/spa segment."
"ABC and its creative team have introduced virtually nothing new in the way of staging, camera work, setting, narrative, wardrobe, or anything else that comprise the expression of Big Brother," Rovin wrote. "Given all the possible expansions ABC could have introduced to the reality television genre, the producers clearly chose to replicate what CBS has spent more than a decade refining and perfecting."
ABC began live streaming the show on Tuesday, one day before CBS demanded to see lots of documents stemming from the making of the new series. CBS has also requested a copy of the show, whether or not it was "final." The judge hasn't yet made a decision on whether to compel ABC to hand over further documents, but the Big Brother network has been tuning into CBS' streamed release anyway.
In one example, Rovin compared similar images of a blonde woman taken from both shows and wrote: "From the costuming to the hair color to the set color to the lighting, the look and feel of this clip from Big Brother ten is clearly indistinguishable from Glass House."
Rovin goes so far as to mention the similarity of the drapery and pillow colors
As THR previously reported, CBS is arguing that Glass House violates the intellectual property of Big Brother and that trade secrets obtained by at least 19 former Big Brother employees are being used to create the new show.
ABC denies that Glass House, which is set to debut June 18, is a copycat, arguing that the "processes and techniques [are] already well known to everyone who has ever worked in reality television" and that none of the alleged similarities between the shows constitute copyright protectable elements.
Despite the lawsuit, ABC has moved forward with advertising the show and announcing the cast. But behind the scenes, an urgent legal drama is playing out. CBS is pulling out all the stops trying to prevent the show from airing, filing a motion May 31 to get the court's permission to expedite the fact-finding process in preparation for a motion for preliminary injunction. ABC has fired back with its own court filing.
CBS is represented by Scott Edelman and a team from L.A.'s Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. ABC is repped by Glenn Pomerantz and a team from Munger Tolles & Olson. Rosen is repped by Devin McRae of L.A.'s Early Sullivan firm.
Glass House is set to premiere June 18.