CBS sues Fox, calling ''Boot Camp'' a ''Survivor'' copycat
Plus, Angie Harmon will leave ''Law & Order,'' Eminem wins Detroit Music Awards, and more
LEGAL BRIEF CBS and the producers of ”Survivor” want to vote ”Boot Camp” off the prime time island. Mark Burnett and his CBS allies filed suit against the military themed game show’s producers and network late Monday in federal court, claiming the series is a blatant copycat of ”Survivor.” CBS alleges that ”Boot Camp” violates federal copyright law and California state law by stealing off key elements of ”Survivor.” According to Variety, the lawsuit was filed after attempts to discuss the show’s similarities with Fox execs were unsuccessful. ”This is a serious attempt to stop anyone, both now and in the future, from ripping off the family jewels,” a CBS source told Variety.
The lawsuit alleges that ”Boot Camp” producers LMNO had originally pitched their reality series to CBS chief Leslie Moonves last June. Back then, the idea was that the drill instructors, not other contestants, would vote people off. After Moonves passed, LMNO actually made the show more ”Survivor” like by giving the recruits voting rights. Also, LMNO hired a former producer of the original ”Survivor” to direct and executive produce ”Camp” for Fox.
Besides the idea of contestants voting each other off, ”Camp” was accused of copying ”Survivor” tactics such as private interviews with each contestant and immunity challenges (”Boot Camp” calls them ”amnesty missions”). ”The only thing[s] missing are the quality and the ratings,” another CBS source said. Fox and LMNO reps did not return Variety’s calls for comment.
CAST AWAY As Queen once said: ”Another one bites the dust.” Angie Harmon is leaving NBC’s ”Law & Order,” after only three seasons. Harmon, who plays assistant district attorney Abbie Carmichael, will finish this season, but then she plans to focus on her feature film career. The long running ensemble drama has lost every single original player in its 12 year run and yet continues to generate top 20 ratings. Series executive producer Dick Wolf let Harmon out of her contract early: ”As I’ve said many times in the past, if an actor wants to leave the series for personal reasons, and gives some notice so that it doesn’t affect production, I have never stood in anyone’s way.” Harmon replaced Carey Lowell in the 1998 – 1999 season. Before then, the future Mrs. Jason Sehorn had appeared on a short lived ABC show called ”C-16” and ”Baywatch Nights.” Since she debuted on ”Law & Order,” Harmon has become a cosmetics company spokesmodel, a frequent magazine cover girl, and a veritable New York socialite. On the big screen, she appears in the upcoming comedy ”Good Advice” with Charlie Sheen.
COURT VICTORY Bruce Springsteen won a court battle to block a British record company from marketing 19 songs he recorded before becoming ”The Boss.” Springsteen was not present in the London Court of Appeal Tuesday morning, where a panel of three judges upheld his 1998 High Court victory against Masquerade Music Ltd., which planned to sell an album of songs Springsteen recorded in 1972, one year before the release of ”Greetings from Asbury Park.” The music company challenged the ’98 decision, but the appeal judges did not overturn the previous decision.
AWARDS ALERT Native son Eminem won two trophies at the 2001 Detroit Music Awards. Em won best national album and national single for ”The Marshall Mathers LP” and the song ”The Real Slim Shady.” More than 70 Detroit Awards were announced at Friday night’s ceremony, which included a performance by Eminem and D-12. Other DMA winners included best hard rock act Broadzilla and distinguished achievement award winner Barrett Strong. The awards are coordinated and produced by the Motor City Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes Detroit musicians. Winners were selected by 3,000 local industry workers.
CASTING Rachael Leigh Cook (”Josie and the Pussycats”) will star in and executive produce the indie romantic comedy ”Invisible Girl” for first time writer / director Max Hoffman. The $10 – $15 million film follows a young woman to whom nobody pays attention until she volunteers to act as bait for a serial killer. Yes, this is supposedly a fun love story. Production starts May 8 in Los Angeles.
REEL DEAL Miramax Films has acquired worldwide distribution rights to a film about late Nuyorican artist Miguel Pinero, starring Benjamin Bratt in the lead role. Directed by biopic expert Leon Ichaso (”Ali: An American Hero,” ”Hendrix”), ”Pinero” chronicles the life of the controversial poet – playwright – actor who served time in Sing Sing for petty theft and drug dealing. He is best known for his Tony nominated play about his prison experiences, ”Short Eyes.” Pinero died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1988 at age 41. ”Pinero” also stars Talisa Soto, Giancarlo Esposito, Rita Moreno, and Mandy Patinkin.
STRAIGHT TO CABLE Michael J. Fox is developing a comedy series for the Lifetime cable network. The actor / producer has committed to exec producing a show based on the book ”Otherwise Engaged,” by Suzanne Finnamore. As you can imagine, considering the series is for Lifetime, the show focuses on a recently engaged couple and will eventually follow them through married life. Fox will produce with his partner Danielle Black at Lottery Hill Entertainment, with DreamWorks as the studio. The quirky comedy should bow on Lifetime some time in 2002.