Producer sues ex-agent over 'Work' concept
EmptyTV producer David Russo has sued his former agent in Los Angeles Superior Court for $5 million, claiming she stole his idea for a reality show centered in a gym, which eventually became Bravo's "Work Out."
Russo alleges in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that Amy Shpall, a former UTA agent who is an executive producer on "Work Out," was privy to his concept for a reality show called "The Gym" and worked with him to develop the show. Also named as defendants are "Work Out" executive producer Bruce Toms, production company Mentorn USA, NBC Universal and UTA.
Shpall and Toms are repped by WMA and could not be reached for comment.
A UTA spokesman said the company had not seen a copy of the lawsuit but did confirm that Shpall has not worked at the agency since 2004. A rep for London-based Mentorn could not be reached for comment.
Russo, whose executive producer credits include "Hey Paula," "Magic Johnson's Who's Got Game" and "Combat Missions," claims that in 2004 he shared several drafts of his treatments for "The Gym" and his ideas to create a brand name and platform to merchandise health and fitness products with Shpall.
The lawsuit claims that after Shpall was either "fired or asked to leave" UTA in 2004, Russo continued to keep in touch with her because he considered her a "good and trusted friend." However, when Shpall was hired by Mentorn USA, he lost touch with her and never knew why until he learned about "Work Out."