July 20, 2011 12:02pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Hollywood Docket: New 'Glee' Lawsuit; 'Modern Family' Wins in Court; 'Harry Potter' Copyright Case
Glee co-creator Ian Brennan is being sued by a man who claims he was promised 15% in backend compensation on the hit Fox musical.
Michael Novick alleges that he was Brennan's friend and a gym partner of showrunner Ryan Murphy. According to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, Novick and Brennan worked to develop the concept of 'Glee' as a screenplay for a movie before trying to make it into a TV show.
Novick says he wanted to drive a hard bargain but relented after Brennan convinced him to accept a lower fee, credit, and 15% of Brennan's back-end compensation.
In other entertainment legal news:
Modern Family not a rip-off: A New York federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by writer Martin Alexander who claimed he came up with a copyrighted sitcom entitled Loony Ben that bore a striking similarity to the Emmy-award winning ABC comedy Modern Family. Alexander alleged he had circulated his work throughout Hollywood, including a proposed casting list for "obscure actress" Sofia Vergara as a fiery, termperamental, Latina mother with a thick accent who is in love with a Caucasian man. Still, Alexander's list of similarities over a show to be focused on "a non-traditional family" was not enough to meet a New York court's threshold for "substantial similarity," so Alexander will not be getting his demanded 50% interest in the copyright.
Harry Potter plagiarism case dismissed in UK: A British judge has tossed a lawsuit by the estate of deceased author Adrian Jacobs, who claimed that the fourth Harry Potter book was copied substantially from a work entitled Willy the Wizard. The estate claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, but a judge at London's High Court last year opined that the claims were "improbable" and ordered the plaintiff to put up $2.6 million as security in the event the Jacobs estate lost and had to pay JK Rowling's legal fees. The estate failed to come up with that cash so the judge has now dismissed the claims entirely.
Andrew Breitbart argues his right to free speech: The firebrand political blogger is battling a defamation claim from ex-USDA employee Shirley Sherrod. Breitbart is alleged to have shown malice by posting an edited video clip of one of Sherrod's speeches with the purported intention of demonstrating that she was a racist. After Sherrod was dismissed from her job, the full video came to light that made clear that the speech was about racial reconciliation. She declined an offer to return to her job, and instead sued Breitbart. Now, Breitbart's lawyers have motioned for the lawsuit to be dismissed on the grounds that Sherrod is attempting to thwart his exercise of First Amendment rights.
Google gets two more months for new settlement with book publishers: The federal judge who rejected a class action settlement between Google, publishers and authors has set a deadline of September 15 to reformulate the deal. The parties reached an agreement in 2008 to put to rest allegations that Google had committed massive copyright infringement by digitizing works for an online library, but the pact, which included a $125 million pay-out, incited objections across the book community. In March, Judge Denny Chin decided the settlement wasn't "fair, adequate and reasonable," giving the parties another chance before he decides how to proceed in the case.