Monday, January 31, 2011

Lie to Me, But Don't Steal from Me

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13: (L-R) Actress Ke...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeKudos to the always interesting Suffolk Media Law Newsletter, along with Courthouse News Service, for reporting on a Los Angeles County Superior Court case involving allegations that the idea for Lie to Me, a Fox TV drama starring English actor Tim Roth that just completed its third season, was purloined from an author and a production company after their negotiations with Fox to develop the series broke down.

Roderick Anscombe, Massachusetts author of the novel,  The Interview Room (2004), and Calif.-based John Gertz Productions, which purchased the screen rights to the novel in 2005 that yielded a screenplay entitled Lie to Lie, sued Fox, Imagine Entertainment and Fox exec Simon Andreae for breach of contract and breach of confidence. The complaint alleges that themes, plots and episodes of  Lie to Me are "strikingly similar" to Lie to Lie and concepts purportedly disclosed by plaintiffs during series development talks in Sept. 2007, with Fox.

The plaintiffs claim that Fox deceived them by debuting Lie to Me in January 2009, after purportedly informing the plaintiffs in late 2007 that the development project was being shelved. Anscombe's novel features a forensic psychiatrist who aids police in crime solving and specializes in detecting falsehoods.

In Lie to Me, Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, a body language expert, who assists authorities in criminal investigations by detecting lies. The pilot episode drew 12 million viewers, and is regularly watched by 6 million viewers on average three years into its run.

Fox has not officially commented on the suit. Wonder if the plaintiffs will hire a body language expert to see if  any tv execs squirm on the witness stand.  Radio comedian Fred Allen once said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of television."  Perhaps that will be offered as a defense at trial.

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