On the same day 14 contestants moved into ABC’s new Glass House — a makeshift home packed with cameras and one-way mirrors that’s been erected in a San Fernando Valley soundstage — the network filed a counterclaim in court Monday in an attempt to stop CBS from blocking its June 18 premiere.
Last week, CBS asked a federal judge to prevent ABC from broadcasting the hidden camera show that looks similar to CBS’ Big Brother. Among the Eye’s many arguments: Glass House has hired up to 28 former BB staffers, and that its executive producer relied and even copied a BB manual to use on the ABC show. In its filing Monday, ABC refers to CBS’ own “tacit” admissions by saying “none of the alleged similarities shared by Big Brother and The Glass House involve copyright protectable elements — they are all generic staples of the reality show genre: people living in a house, competing with each other to avoid elimination, and winning a prize.” ABC also argues that the inner-workings of BB are hardly a secret; journalists are routinely given tours and a You Tube video is available that shows the behind-the-scenes workings, the filing states.
“There was no conspiracy to hire away Big Brother employees,” the filing goes on to say. “To the contrary, in reality TV production, nearly everyone works as a freelancer moving from show to show, network to network. Workers often follow a showrunner (like Kenny Rosen, The Glass House’s showrunner) with whom they like working.”
The filing also states that ABC’s “innovative new show” has already racked up $16 million in promotion costs and that postponing its debut “would seriously undermine the show’s potential success.” CBS quickly responded with this statement: “We believe that our filing last week, the testimony from copyright expert Jeff Rovin and The Glass House producer’s own deposition speak for themselves and speak loudly on our behalf. Nothing in the defendants’ submission can change the basic facts.”
U.S. District Judge Gary Feess promised an expedited hearing, though no date has been set.
Meanwhile, journalists were given a sneak peek of The Glass House, which is located in a two-story soundstage in the San Fernando Valley area of Van Nuys, Calif — roughly 10 miles away from the Studio City, Calif. location of the Big Brother house. Like Big Brother, contestants of Glass House will spend their days and nights inside a house while 50 cameras watch their every move. There are also weekly challenges and opportunities to watch the house via the internet, similar staples of Big Brother.
Unlike the CBS show, however, the contestants of Glass House leave the house and are sequestered for a two-day period while viewers, not their fellow contestants, decide who to evict. The audience, in fact, will have a big say on what happens inside the house — like where the contestants sleep and what they eat. (It also has no Julie Chen-like host to tell the contestants what to do).
In an interview with reporters last week, Executive Producer Rosen said he went out of his way to find contestants with “redeemable” qualities because ultimately, they must convince viewers to keep them in the house. The last one standing wins $250,000.
“They’ll leave here as better people than when they arrived,” Rosen said.
Here are images from the house: