1:51pm PT by Matthew Belloni
A&E, 'Lady Hoggers' Stars Sued for Allegedly Stealing Pig-Hunting Show (Exclusive)
A&E Television Networks and the producers and stars of the A&E reality series Lady Hoggers have been sued by the creator of an Internet show who alleges her concept was stolen.
In a lawsuit filed in state court in Texas and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Crystal Ward and her Hogs, Dogs & Lace LLC claim that the A&E series, which follows two "hog hunting" Florida women and began airing in fall 2011, is a rip-off of her web series. Ward says that in 2009 she came up with the idea for a series featuring three female hog hunters, called Hogs, Dogs & Lace. She formed a production company, recruited two other women to participate in hog hunts and hired her own film crew to shoot footage that later aired online and on DirecTV's Pursuit network.
A&E is alleged to have shown interest in the series and is said to have begun negotiations with Ward for a derivation to be called Hog Wild. But after Ward shared her "confidential, proprietary, original material and creative concepts" with A&E and a production company, contract negotiations broke down, according to the complaint. A&E then offered to "buy out" Ward's interest in the show, she says, but she denied that request.
A&E went ahead with the show with the same two women Ward had recruited, Christie Chreene and Julie Snead, as well as a new production company, Sharp Entertainment (all are defendants) and renamed the show Lady Hoggers. The series premiered in November and has aired at least eight episodes, according to the suit, but it has not yet been renewed for a second season.
"A&E and Sharp Entertainment have grossly underestimated the strength and fortitude of Ms. Ward," her lawyer Jammy Kiggundu tells THR in a statement. "She created this show, brought these parties together and then was unfairly and unjustly cut out of the project and the profits."
An A&E spokesperson said the network does not comment on pending litigation.
Kiggundu adds: "Ms. Ward has been hunting and wrestling wild hogs since she was very young. She is not afraid to wrestle with A&E, Sharp Entertainment and the other named defendants in a court of law."
The suit for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidence, fraud, negligence, civil conspiracy, trade secret misappropriation and tortious interference with contract with filed by Houston's Douglass & Kiggundu firm.