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CBS Lawyers Threaten ABC Over 'Big Brother'-Type Show 'Glass House'


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From The Hollywood Reporter by Matthew Belloni

CBS lawyers are threatening ABC over a recently announced reality show called Life in a Glass House, which CBS claims is a direct rip-off of the long-running hit Big Brother.In a cease-and-desist letter sent Friday to top ABC executives Anne Sweeney and Alan Braverman and obtained byThe Hollywood Reporter, CBS lawyer Scott Edelman of the Gibson Dunn firm says Glass House is "strikingly" similar to Big Brother, which CBS has aired since 2000.

"In the strongest possible terms, we must admonish ABC and anyone involved in the development or production of Glass House that they will be acting at their own peril if they continue to proceed in this manner," Edelman writes, "and that CBS has instructed us to pursue all available remedies if this course of conduct continues."

Read the Letter Here

CBS also claims that the new ABC series is being produced by Big Brother veterans who might reveal private information about the inner workings of the show. Specifically, ABC alternative development executive Corie Henson is a Big Brother alum, and both Kenny Rosen and Mike O'Sullivan worked on the show. THR has learned that those individuals also received similar cease-and-desist letters,

"Even worse, CBS is informed that Glass House is being produced by a team of at least 18 former members of CBS' Big Brother production staff -- all of whom were privy to trade secrets and other confidential, proprietary information and signed broad and binding nondisclosure agreements in connection with Big Brother," the letter reads.

This isn't the first spat over similar reality television shows. In a famous case, Wife Swapproducer RDF Media fought with Fox over the apparent knockoff Trading Spouses, and a similar feud broke out over I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!, which was allegedly too similar to Survivor. Both cases settled.

CBS claims ABC's show would violate the copyright in Big Brother. Both shows feature contestants living together in a house rigged with cameras and competing to avoid eviction for a six-figure cash prize.

"In short, ABC has used nearly identical protectable elements that form the essence of Big Brother and copies them in creating Glass House, establishing a classic case of copyright infringement," the letter reads.

We've reached out to ABC for comment and will update with a response.

More to come.

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Good grief, shouldn't that mean that after Doctor Kildare there should have been no other medical shows allowed on TV? What about talk shows? They're pretty much all the same format. And quiz shows ...

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I think CBS will pursue cases against the former producers, has they have signed contracts with CBS that prevent them from giving away "trade secrets" about how BB is made. We already know that the FCC has ruled that BB is not a game show, it falls under that category of "entertainment," like wrestling. So there could be proprietary methods involved in making BB. The former BB producers will have to prove they're not incorporating these methods into Glass House. By going going after the producers personally, either ABC will have to provide legal support, or they'll have to hire their own lawyers, which could cause them bail out of Glass House.

From PhillyNews:


Attorneys for CBS noted that the former “Big Brother” staffers now working on the show, including “Glass House” executive producer Kenny Rosen, all signed nondisclosure agreements and are likely violating them by working on the new series.

“In the strongest possible terms, we must admonish ABC and anyone involved in the development or production of ‘Glass House’ that they will be acting at their own peril if they continue to proceed in this manner,” says the letter that was sent to ABC and later obtained by the Associated Press and other news outlets."

A couple of days ago, JEDI posted casting info that he got from the ABC web site. When I went to the ABC web site, the casting info was gone. Maybe they're ceasing and desisting.

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Who knew the games would begin before the show even aired.

My PreSeason Prediction Vote: CBS for the Block!


Host is married to the head of the network AND CBS will not let ABC milk their Summer Season Cash Cow.

It probably does not hurt that Les Moonves and Julie Chen knows what it really takes to rip off a show...yeah I am speaking about "The Talk vs. The View".

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I'm surprised ABC would even try because of the expense. The BB house cost something like 2 million to build, the control room must have cost millions, but CBS knew they could amortize the cost over four seasons , but I think the biggest expense for CBS is that the sound stage the the BB house is on can't be used the rest of the year. That's very expensive real estate to have tied up for a series that only runs 90 days, All the other stages that shoot sitcoms and drama are used almost year-round.

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Posted at 08:36 PM ET, 05/10/2012

'Big Brother' net CBS sues ABC over 'Glass House'

By Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post

One week after firing off a letter to ABC threatening legal action if it went ahead with plans to air new summer reality series "The Glass House," CBS has sued the network over what it calls ABC's "carbon copy" of CBS's summer reality series "Big Brother."

In its lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, CBS claims the new show is in violation of its copyright, and that the new project has taken secrets obtained from its own long-running summer reality series. CBS notes "The Glass House" employs around 19 former "Big Brother" staffers, who, the network charges, are disclosing trade secrets and violating the non-disclosure agreement they had signed while working on "BB."

CBS claims an unnamed ABC suit told people to try to hire as many former "BB" staffers as possible; the suit names two top "Glass House" producers who worked on "BB," and a current vice president of alternative programming at ABC who is a former supervising producer on "BB."

"Glass House" has replicated every key aspect of "Big Brother," CBS claims in its suit, including plot, themes, mood, setting, pace, characters, sequence of events, and other "concrete elements." The two shows are "virtually identical," CBS continued, noting both involve approximately 14 contestants living in a large house, isolated from the outside world, who are filmed continuously, etc.

ABC, in a statement issued Thursday, dismissed the suit, saying "The differences between 'Glass House' and 'Big Brother' are both fundamental and obvious."

And From TMZ:

CBS wants at least 3 former high level "Big Brother" employees who signed with "Glass House" to fork over $500,000 EACH for allegedly violating a confidentiality agreement they had with CBS.

CBS is also suing ABC for unspecified damages.

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19 former BB employees? Wow. That's either the biggest coincidence or they were targeting these people to work on this show. I think it will be difficult to proceed very far with a lawsuit except where the previous employees signed non-disclosure agreements. That could get a bit sticky for those employees. Only time will tell...

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'The Glass House' is 'right on course' despite 'Big Brother' copycat lawsuit, says executive producer By Jay Bobbin May 22, 2012 2:42 PM ET http://blog.zap2it.com/

A big stone is being thrown at a glass house -- in the form of an inter-network lawsuit -- but one of the chief architects maintains the project is progressing as planned.

Set to premiere Monday, June 18, the ABC reality-competition series "The Glass House" puts 14 people together in a house where they vie through various challenges for the ultimate win of a big cash prize (in this case, $250,000).

Sound familiar?

It did to CBS, too, which is why the network that has broadcast the similar "Big Brother" since 2000 is suing ABC to keep "The Glass House" from debuting. The new show will involve a big social-media component, letting viewers interact with the contestants and help steer them through the game, presumably changing up the concept enough for ABC to label the suit "meritless."

"There have been some distractions along the way," allows "Glass House" executive producer Kenny Rosen to Zap2it, "but for the most part, we're right on course."

Previously employed on "Big Brother" -- as were at least 18 other "Glass House" staff members, the CBS suit claims -- Rosen maintains the ABC series has "an original concept, an original idea and an original game that is nothing like any other show that's ever been done. We're going to defend the claims in litigation and just keep calm and carry on."

That's not just a phrase, since Keep Calm and Carry On is the name of the production company behind "The Glass House" ... a defendant in the lawsuit, as is Rosen. Nevertheless, carrying on is just what he says he's doing. And, he vows, "We're going to have a great show on June 18."

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You're Not THAT Original

From: http://www.tmz.com/2...-house-lawsuit/

ABC is firing back at CBS -- claiming its new realty show "Glass House" is NOT stealing trade secrets from "Big Brother" ... because NOTHING about Big Brother is a secret.

The Alphabet network has filed a response in its legal battle with CBS -- asking a judge to throw out the "over-the-top" lawsuit ASAP.

In the docs, ABC says the insinuation that "Glass House" is stealing top secret info is "outrageous" ... because "there is nothing secret about editing a program with multiple feeds together or developing a narrative structure for it. That is reality TV."

ABC also says hidden cameras, putting contestants in isolation and doing contests is nothing special ... and shouldn't be considered a trade secret.

In the suit, ABC claims there are significant differences between the two shows -- notably "Glass House" will be a team-oriented game ... whereas "Big Brother" contains an "every man for himself theme."

ABC scoffs at CBS' claim that 19 former "Big Brother" employees -- all of whom know the secret sauce -- defected to "Glass House." The network claims the reason so many BB employees left is because "Brother" producers run a reality TV sweat shop -- claiming "it is common knowledge in the industry that low pay and the 24 hours a day/7 days a week filming schedule makes life on the Big Brother set difficult."

The suit adds, "That employees prefer a different show with benefits and better hours is hardly evidence of a trade secret violation."

ABC is asking the court to deny every demand CBS has made -- so it can produce its show in a timely and cost-effective manner.

A judge has yet to rule on the matter.

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Those non-disclosure agreements won't hold up in court if the intent is to keep those former employees from working in their industry. Case law holds that everyone has the right to earn a living in their field, and non-disclosure agreements are void if they restrict people from doing so.

So the former employees would have to do something obviously in violation of the agreement that isn't related to their work, for them to be successfully sued. They can't be successfully sued simply for working for a competitor.

Often what companies do to get around the law is to pay ex-employees retention bonuses or something like that. Essentially, pay them to not work for a competitor. If they break that deal, then payments stop (or are clawed back). Unless the former BB employees had a similar deal with CBS, there's nothing CBS can do to stop them from working for ABC.

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I scanned the Lawsuit after Morty posted the link and wondered how often this type of lawsuit occurs when a network introduces a new show.

I find the posturing on both sides fascinating...I kinda wish I knew more about how this side of the "game" is played between networks.

I am sure it is very common in this industry for people who worked together to regroup on other projects BUT leaving to do a show exactly like what you were doing may be a different matter.

Many of the people on the suit worked on BB thru last season.

A good number had been on from more than 5 seasons - several since Season 2.

There was a diversity of skills sets (production, casting, editing, camera, etc).

These people were seemingly "poached" for what they know about a direct competitor...this should be interesting.

If I left my company and used proprietary information to create a same/similar work product for a competitor and they could prove it, I could be sued. And, if it could be proved that the company that hired me did it because they wanted access to company proprietary info then the competitor could be held liable.

The Big Brother Rule Book!

There were several examples given of trade secret info but one I found of interest is that all the people hired had access to the Big Brother Rule Book and that the Rule book contained propritary details for how to play/run the game.

This has always been a bit of a mystery to us viewers because CBS has worked hard to safeguard that info.

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More on ABC's Response

From The Hollywood Reporter

On the trade secret violation claim, ABC argues that there's nothing secret about a show that has aired on CBS since 2000 (and around the world via deals with creator Endemol) and that workers typically move around a lot in the unscripted TV business. "Employee mobility is the norm, not the exception in reality TV," the ABC court papers argue. "Employees, who generally must be rehired each season, are often itinerant, going from series to series looking for a better opportunity." That's especially true at Big Brother, ABC argues, due to the show's "low pay and 24 hour a day/7 days a week filming schedule."

After arguing that Judge Margaret Morrow should deny the request for "expidited" discovery, ABC then sets out a proposed schedule that, if adopted by the court, would culminate in a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction June 11.

CBS wants the judge to intervene immediately, and the network is requesting permission to obtain documents and deposition testimony from ABC relating to Glass House and several former Big Brother producers who are involved in making the new show. CBS says the requests are urgent.

"Because Glass House is now in the midst of production, the value to Defendants of CBS' trade secrets and confidential information is at its highest, and those trade secrets are likely being disclosed on the production of Glass House every day," the network argues. "CBS will suffer substantial and irreparable harm if these wrongs are allowed to continue, as compared to the limited burden that this discovery will place on Defendants."

With Glass House set to premiere in less than a month, the clock is ticking. Will CBS successfully persuade the judge to stop the show in its tracks?

ABC is repped by Glenn Pomerantz and a team from Munger Tolles & Olson and Devin McRae of L.A's Early Sullivan firm. CBS is repped by Scott Edelman and a team from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

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Guest 6Borders

Let Grodner and CBS either rest on their laurels and put their money where their "gets lamer every year" show mouth is or land on their butts cos someone else is willing to take their tired lame theme and maybe actually DO something with it worth watching.

I could name 50 people who could do as good or better job as hostess than Julie Chen...but that doesn't count cos hubby is head of CBS...hmmm who do I sue over that and on what legal grounds...can you say "job security"?????.

Personally, I gotta agree...nothing secret about Big Brother!!!

I'm willing to let Glass House have a season...(I'm sure it's going to be just as "fixed" as BB is)....UNLESS I see one former BB houseguest anywhere on it!!!

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I also will give Glass House a try for at least a couple of episode. The problem with most reality shows like BB and Survivor is that they really get boring about half-way through, when everything becomes completely predictable. Survivor is the worst for this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

CBS adds new allegations against ABC reality show

By ANTHONY McCARTNE of Bloomberg Businessweek

Attorneys for CBS Corp. claim the producer of an upcoming ABC reality series copied materials from his time on "Big Brother" and deleted emails that could have proved important in a case over whether the new show should be allowed to air.

The allegations were included in a filing Thursday that asked a federal judge to block the June 18 premiere of ABC's "The Glass House." CBS claims the series copies heavily from its hit show "Big Brother" and relies on experience and techniques used on that long-running series.

CBS' case focuses heavily on the notion that ABC is relying on the experience of roughly 30 former "Big Brother" staffers now working at "Glass House," including Executive Producer Kenny Rosen.

Rosen acknowledged in a recent deposition that he deleted emails after ABC had been warned by CBS that it would be sued, court documents said. It also alleges that Rosen directed a staffer to copy manuals he obtained while working on "Big Brother."

That would violate a non-disclosure agreement Rosen signed while working with CBS and could be a basis for blocking ABC from airing "Glass House," CBS' attorneys argue.

"It may be rare that a court enjoins a television show from proceeding ... but if ever there were a time to do so, this is it," CBS attorneys wrote in their motion.

Much of Rosen's deposition testimony was redacted from public copies of the filings, but CBS said in a statement that his testimony "further demonstrates the brazen lengths that former `Big Brother' producers have gone to use confidential material, obtained while under our employment, to develop this new show."

ABC's attorneys responded Friday by requesting that the motion not be heard before "Glass House" premieres, arguing that an order blocking the show from airing would harm its network and potentially leave 140 employees jobless.

"In the end, this entire litigation appears to be an effort by CBS to knock out a competitive show in the courtroom, rather than compete in the homes of American viewers who could choose which the best show is (or choose to watch both)," ABC's lawyers wrote.

No hearing date on CBS' motion has been set, but both sides have been arguing for weeks over evidence. ABC and Rosen have denied wrongdoing and issued statements in response to CBS' motion.

"CBS first tried to intimidate me and then sued me for agreeing to work for a competing network," Rosen wrote in a statement. "What CBS is doing is wrong on many levels and I look forward to our day in court."

ABC wrote in a statement that it was "a naked attempt by CBS to stifle competition and creativity by claiming that reality techniques that have been developed over many years, on many shows by countless producers, are somehow exclusive to CBS."

ABC has continued work on its show even after CBS sued the network on May 10, alleging copyright infringement and violation of trade secrets. Its filing Friday argued that CBS cannot win on copyright grounds, noting that an idea itself is not protected by copyright laws.

Fourteen "Glass House" contestants were announced Monday, including a bail bondsman, a scientist and a bar mitzvah DJ. The contestants will become housemates and compete for a $250,000 prize. Audience feedback will help shape the contestants' daily life and who stays in the game.

"Big Brother" is scheduled to begin airing its 14th season in the United States on July 12.

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Guest 6Borders

The more CBS fights it the more I want to see it air this season. CBS should be suing Grodner for not getting off her lazy butt and making BB so worth watching nobody would want to watch a spin-off, let alone get excited about it.

Hopefully CBS & Grodner will be forced to listen to the viewers regarding BB for next season.

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I was on ABC's, The Glass House web page an hour ago, when the discussion forum stopped working. Also, the live streaming that was suppose to start tonight (11:00 pm E ) has been postponed until Tuesday.The HG are already in the house.

I hope the show doesn't get postponed, or canceled because of the lawsuit.

In reality, ABC argues, it would be irreparably harmed if Glass House is postponed after the network has spent $16 million to promote the premiere on Monday night, in what the network calls “prime real estate in ABC’s summer schedule after The Bachelorette.”

“A temporary restraining order,” says ABC, “even for a week, would seriously undermine the show’s potential success."


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CBS Continues Attack on ABC's 'Glass House' in New Court Filing

ABC's opposition to TRO draws objection from 'Big Brother' network CBS.

By Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter

CBS continues efforts to stop the upcoming debut of ABC's upcoming reality series Glass House, which CBS argues is too similar to its long-running hit Big Brother.

On Tuesday, CBS submitted a new court filing that portrays its legal adversary of being short on the merits and inconsistent in making the case that Glass House isn't a copycat.

Read the Document Here

CBS says that it deserves a temporary restraining order because ABC has violated copyright and misappropriated trade secrets through the hiring of 30 former Big Brother employees, including showrunner Kenny Rosen, who was formerly a producer on Big Brother. On Monday, ABC detailedthe case against the injunction, which CBS hasn't wasted any time in making a reply.

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ABC's supposed failings are listed by CBS in Tuesday's filing, including the alleged concession of access to its intellectual property and the failure "to identify a single show (other than their own) that employs the same compilation of elements and expression that Big Brotherdoes."

CBS says that what ABC has "done thus far is continually change their story on infringement," from whether Glass House is locked in concrete final form to the derivation of the show. CBS says that Rosen has tried to defend the show by saying it was really based on The Hunger Games rather than Big Brother, but now ABC "abandon(s) that position."

To avoid a TRO, ABC has argued that the "processes and techniques [are] already well known to everyone who has ever worked in reality television" and that none of the alleged similarities between the shows constitute copyright protectable elements.

In reaction, CBS says that ABC is trying to "rationalize" theft.

"CBS is not complaining about the copying of an idea," says the network in its reply. "What Defendants did here was entirely different: They had an extraordinary level of access toBig Brother, used it to produce Glass House, then lifted not just a few of Big Brother’s elements, but the entire protectable expression and compilation of them."

CBS says that rules differences between the two shows listed by ABC are "insignificant distinctions" and says that Big Brother host Julie Chen can't be proclaimed as a serious difference. "Chen rarely appears on the show," CBS says about its own talent. "While she may give instructions during the show, Glass House uses a very similar method."

The fact that Glass House relies on many former Big Brother employees is probative of the copying, according to CBS' court brief: "It is not as if Defendants hired 30 random employees from one reality show to work on a run-of-the-mill reality show; they targeted 30 key people from the only successful fast-turnaround “house reality” competition show to comprise the key production staff of a copycat show."

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ABC had also argued on Monday that the judge should turn down CBS's requested TRO for the same reasons a court in 2004 rejected CBS' attempts to use its Survivor to knock outI’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

"But there, the expressive quality of the two shows, among other facts, set them apart," replies CBS, saying Survivor was found to be dramatic and I'm A Celebrity determined to be comedic. In this instance, CBS says not only are Glass House and Big Brother alike in expression, but that previous case "lacked the additional clear-cut evidence of infringement here—namely, the mass poaching of critical employees, along with admissions from Show Runners like Rosen that the newer show shares all the key elements of the original."

ABC today began live streaming Glass House. The premiere is scheduled for June 18, but U.S. District Judge Gary Fees will likely issue a ruling on whether Glass House can air as planned first. ABC says it has spent $16 million to promote the premiere on Monday night, and that it will suffer enormously if the judge intervenes, but CBS waives off the "supposed parade of horribles," saying any harm to ABC is the result of the company's own alleged illegal conduct, adding the harm "would undoubtedly be worsened if Glass House were pulled off television midseason, after the show began airing."

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner

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Guest 6Borders

CBS keeps yapping about "trade secrets"...give me an ABC break! Any Big Brother fan who has watched more than a few seasons could tell you EXACTLY how stuff is done on BB, how it's staged, scripted and how Grodner manipulates the game to make sure her little fav's stay in! BB has become so predictable we can all mostly write the scripts in advance.

There is NOTHING Glass House can show us that's a big secret in my opinion. Just let it air and let the fans decide to watch or not watch.

If CBS had produced anything on BB but Brenchel and the bring-backs and given us a show worth watching the last several seasons instead of going downhill and just depending on their long-running series/fan base than the courts would not even be having this discussion. CBS is running scared because they know Grodner is the laziest producer ever and Julie has job secuity cos of her hubby.

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I saw a scene from Coming To America the Other night that reminded me of the BB vs Glass House battle.

(Mr. McDowell explaining to Eddie Murphy's character the differences between his restaurant and McDonald's).

Our Place is called McDowell's and they are McDonald's.

They have the Golden Arches AND we have the Yellow Arcs.

We both have 2 all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese but their's is on a seasame seed bun, our bun has no seeds.

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LOS ANGELES—A federal judge has set a hearing on a motion by CBS to block the premiere of the upcoming ABC reality series "The Glass House" on the basis it copies elements and secrets from the long-running show "Big Brother.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess scheduled arguments for Friday morning, just days before "Glass House" is scheduled to premiere on Monday night.

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