On the issue of copyright infringement, Warner Bros pulled the plug on Quean
(which it was making for CBS) because of legal threats from Sony, on the basis that it is too similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I have learned that Warner Bros TV, which produces the project with Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures, yesterday decided to pull the plug upon the advice of an outside legal firm.
When it was announced, Quean, written by The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken, sounded like a typical CBS procedural: It centers on an edgy and independent Millennial hacker girl who teams up with an Oakland police detective to solve crimes.
I wonder if this might doom Elemetary
, too? Quean
was making efforts to change the location, race and gender of characters, and apparently that didn't keep the lawyers at bay:
Chaiken proceeded with an extensive p.1 rewrite of the pilot, changing most key plot elements, including the lead’s employer from a PI to a law firm, her boss from a white male private investigator to a black female lawyer, and the protagonist herself from a loner to a girl with a boyfriend.
CBS has a successful lineup and little need to stick its neck out just for one pilot that probably won't even survive the vicious culling process in May. However, to put this in perspective, it would be more of a case of a corporation not wanting the bother and expense of legal trouble than any real departure from the well established practice of borrowing from everything and anything:
This is a rare legal battle in a business where most new ideas are well forgotten old ones. For instance, the CW pilot The Selection draws parallels to The Hunger Games, the network’s First Cut to Grey’s Anatomy. Sony TV’s CBS drama Baby Big Shot sounds on paper like a male Suits; NBC’s ensemble firefighter drama Chicago Fire is being compared to Rescue Me; and CBS has the modern Sherlock Holmes pilot from CBS TV Studios while Warner Bros has been doing Holmes movies and the BBC has a 21st century Holmes series on the air. The list goes on and on.
There have been attempts at legal action in the past, but but I can’t think of of an outcome similar to this one in television, where the premise is important but key for each project is execution. For example, ABC’s comedy Less Then Perfect was an unofficial U.S. version of Betty La Fea, which didn’t prevent ABC from doing a successful adaptation of the Colombian telenovela several years later in Ugly Betty as the two shows took the original premise of an unattractive female assistant in different directions. Similarly, TNT’s The Closer had been referred to as an unofficial U.S. take on Prime Suspect, but it was very different from NBC’s official remake earlier this season. Maybe Sony is considering doing a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo TV series down the road and wouldn’t want a similar concept in the marketplace.
I actually like the premise of The Selection
, and I'm looking forward to that. I hope that one isn't affected by any of this.