In Hollywood’s latest “you stole my idea” case, a pair of screenwriters have filed a lawsuit claiming the Zooey Deschanel sitcom was based on their work. Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold claim that Fox’s New Girl and their 2006 pilot Square One contain similarities “so numerous and specific that independent creation was obviously impossible.” They name as defendants New Girl exec producer Peter Chernin, creator Elizabeth Meriwether, director Jake Kasdan, WME and Fox parent company 21st Century Fox.
Weighing in at 90-plus pages, the suit filed Thursday in California’s Central District (read it here) claims a laundry list of “similarities between the shows’ themes, structure, setting, overall story and plot arcs, specific plot devices, interpersonal twists, dialogue, sequence of events, tenor, specific scenes and elements of scenes, character identities, character personalities, character relationships, character interaction, character development, character idiosyncrasies, and character names require the conclusion that defendant Meriwether not only knew of Square One, but copied Square One to create New Girl.” The plaintiffs say their show was based on Counts’ personal experience, when she moved into a three-man bachelor pad after a divorce. She kept notes and joined with Gold to “develop and adapt these experiences into Square One.” Counts and Gold say they “dedicated a tremendous amount of time, money and energy” from 2006-11 taking their show around town and that it was “reviewed by numerous talent agencies as a result, including the Endeavor agency,” which merged with the William Morris Agency in 2009 to become WME.
The suit seeks a jury trial, damages, court costs and an injunction to halt production and distribution of New Girl. The plaintiffs are represented by Century City attorney Andrew T. Ryan.