There is no replicating the land of the Chenbot, but apparently ABC is going to try. The network is moving ahead with a plan to debut a reality show called Glass House on June 18 despite CBS’ claims that it is a blatant rip-off of the Julie Chen-hosted Big Brother. The ABC show not only will feature 14 contestants living together in a house rigged with cameras but will allegedly rely on the expertise of at least 19 former Big Brother employees — which is one key reason CBS decided to file a complaint in the United States District Court in L.A. alleging copyright infringement and breach of fiduciary duty. The Eye’s next goal is to block the premiere with an injunction, but the network anticipates an uphill battle. Federal judges probably don’t have a lot of sympathy for a reality show when there are so many copycats airing today, and the bench may hesitate on ruling whether Glass House is a flat-out carbon copy without seeing it first.
The format of Glass House has a few differences from Big Brother, including installing glass walls and having America decide who stays or leaves the house. Still, the network could have a tough time arguing that its show — featuring a group of contestants who are sequestered in a house on a studio lot, monitored by cameras 24/7, and given challenges to perform as they vie to remain in the house and win hundreds of thousands of dollars — is an original idea. The battle could be a juicy one if it ever sees the inside of a courtroom. (As of press time, no court date has been set.) For now, though, ABC seems to think it never will. ”We believe there is no merit to this lawsuit,” the network said in a statement. ”The differences between Glass House and Big Brother are both fundamental and obvious.”