10:11am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Glass House' Producers Sue CBS Claiming Campaign of Harassment
The Big Brother vs. Glass House battle is heating up again.
The legal skirmish began in June when CBS sued ABC over its alleged copycat reality show about strangers living together. A federal judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order against ABC's Glass House because CBS hadn't demonstrated a likelihood of success on claims that copyrighted expression had been stolen.
Then ABC reality show didn't fare too well in the ratings, and in August, CBS dropped its suit against ABC. Instead, CBS announced that it would pursue in arbitration the former Big Brother producers for violating their confidentiality agreements and stealing trade secrets.
Now, Glass House executive producer Kenny Rosen, ABC vp alternative programming Corie Henson and Glass House producer Michael O'Sullivan are striking back at CBS' arbitration claims. All three formerly worked on Big Brother and are upset with CBS, claiming in a new lawsuit that the network is using the "litigation equivalent of war" and has brought arbitration against them "as part of its campaign to prevent, or at the very least, disrupt and harass, the production of a new reality show 'The Glass House."
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a CBS rep says: “We believe this is simply an attempt to delay the inevitable arbitration proceeding. We are very confident in our position that there has been a violation of signed, written confidentiality agreements, and we will look forward to a determination of that matter by the arbitration panel.”
CBS failed in getting a judge to do anything about ABC's show it alleged had "similarities" in plot, characters, themes, mood, dialogue, setting, pace and its sequence of events. But the ratings provided some satisfaction for CBS.
Still, the dispute wasn't finished, as CBS pursued Rosen, Henson and O'Sullivan. The three say that CBS "intended to send a message that former CBS employees who later dared to work for a competing show would be punished."
According to the new lawsuit, CBS allegedly sent arbitration demands seeking $1 million in liquidated and punitive damages. The arbitration was based on provisions of the nondisclosure agreements signed by Rosen, Henson and O'Sullivan.
But the three point out that CBS first brought the lawsuit in federal court, which they say amounts to forum-shopping.
"CBS's arbitration demand involves exactly the same claims and same facts upon which CBS sought to build a case in federal court," say the trio, being represented by Glenn Pomerantz and Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke. "Moreover, the arbitration demand refers expressly to discovery CBS obtained during the court action."
Rosen, Henson and O'Sullivan want CBS' legal war to end and are asking a judge to make it happen.
E-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @eriqgardner