EXCLUSIVE: The show about an immortal living in NYC hasn’t even hit the air yet, but ABC’s drama Forever already is getting some potential legal pushback. Today RadicalMedia sent a pointed letter to producer Warner Bros TV claiming that the supernatural procedural unveiled last week at the upfronts “sounds rather similar” to the best-selling 2003 novel Forever by Pete Hamill about an immortal living in the Big Apple. “This claim is baseless,” said a WBTV spokesperson today in response.
The co-producers of docu Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, on the other hand, note that the titles are the same, the location is the same and that both the character in the novel and in the upcoming TV show from writer/EP Matt Miller, EPs Dan Lin and Jennifer Gwartz, and director Brad Anderson are “seeking an answer concerning his immortality.” No legal action is in the cards yet, and even if it was, titles are not protected by copyright. However, Forever the novel rights holders RadicalMedia at least want a name change for the series set to debut on Tuesdays this fall.
“As RadicalMedia and Robert Redford’s Sundance Productions are moving forward on the developmental production of a television property based on the contractual grant of rights for his novel Forever,” says the letter (read it here) from RadicalMedia’s General Counsel Joan Aceste, “we request that Warner Bros. Television cease using the title of Mr. Hamill’s novel as the title of this new series to avoid any confusion as to the true origins of your series, which should be in line with your assertion that Mr. Hamill’s book was not used to create this series.” Sundance and RadicalMedia first announced back in 2012 that they would be producing a series based on Forever with Redford and his production partner Laura Michalchyshyn serving as EPs.
As made clear from today’s letter, this isn’t the first time RadicalMedia has brought this matter to WBTV’s attention. The FremantleMedia-owned company contacted the TV production arm of WB Entertainment earlier this year when the pilot for Forever was first announced but seemingly made little headway. Starring Ioan Gruffudd and Judd Hirsch, Forever is set to debut on ABC in the fall in the 10 PM slot after Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This also isn’t the first time author Hamill has had this type of experience. Back in 2008, the writer publicly noted the similarities between Forever and Fox’s short-lived series New Amsterdam about a 1607-born man living in present-day NYC as a police detective. While displeased, Hamill never took steps to put the matter before the courts and Fox pulled the plug on the unsuccessful series after 8 episodes.