January 14, 2013 7:11pm PT by Alex Ben Block
Lawsuit Claims ABC Family Ripped Off Idea For Christmas TV Movie
Disney and the ABC Family Channel and others were sued Monday by two TV producers who say a story concept they pitched to the cable network was later made into a movie that used many of their ideas.
Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum say in the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that in 2005 they pitched an idea in detail for a movie called I Hate Christmas that they describe as a “girl’s version of the film Groundhog Day with its own unique twist.” One of those they talked to about their idea was Beth Miller, then director of development at ABC Family, and now among those named in the lawsuit.
Grossbard and Rosenblum had a history of making movies with Christmas themes, including The Christmas Shoes for CBS (2002) and its sequel The Christmas Blessing (2005) as well as The Christmas Hope for Lifetime.
After they provided ABC Family with an eight-page treatment written with writer Denise Gruska, ABC Family considered the project for several months and then informed the producers they were not going forward with the project.
In December 2011, Grossbard and Rosenblum saw an ABC Family movie called The 12 Dates Of Christmas, which they say was very similar to their concept and used a number of very specific devices that they had suggested. Miller, who by then had left the network, was a producer of the movie.
The lawsuit does not name a specific amount of money being sought. It lists as the causes of action breach of implied-in-fact contract, breach of confidence, constructive trust and accounting.
A Disney spokesman referred a call for comment to an ABC communications executive. There was no immediate response.