The dismissal this week of a turgid copyright and fraud case is turning September into a very good month for Power.
Having wrapped up its fourth season on September 3 with very strong numbers, the Starz drama now has seen a federal judge unplug claims that the series created by Courtney Kemp and executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson was lifted substantially from an unpublished manuscript. In fact, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real didn’t just pull the plug on the claims by Tribulation of a Ghetto Kid author Larry Johnson and editor Blake Keller on Monday, he shredded them — politely.
“Plaintiffs have not met their pleading burden of showing more than a bare possibility that Defendants had access to Tribulation,” the California judge said in a ruling issued September 18 after taking motions from both sides under submission during the summer (read it here).
In their initial filing of October 2016, Johnson and Keller alleged that they gave a copy of their script to Jackson associate Nikki Turner back in 2004. They claim that through her, the gambling dispute-based Tribulation script eventually made its way to Kemp and Jackson as the basis for the 2014-debuting Power.
Judge Real was not picking up those bread crumbs, at all.
Terming that chain of events “merely speculative,” Real then adds that Johnson and Keller “have not shown a sufficient nexus between Defendant Turner and any other Defendant.”
Kicking the access claim to the curb, the LBJ-appointed judge then guts the rest of the plaintiffs’ case, which was seeking sweeping damages. That gutting might be all the more like something Jackson’s ruthless Kanan character would do on Power as the whole matter was set for a possible October 21 trial start if it had survived defendants Kemp, Jackson, Starz, CBS Television, producer Randall Emmett and others’ July 26 motion to end the matter.
“The characters in the works also share no significant similarities under copyright law,” the judge asserts of comparisons between Power’s drug lord and nightclub owner Ghost, played by Omari Hardwick, and Tribulation’s Prince. “Plaintiffs allege that both are smart, wear the same hairstyle and goatee, and desire to leave the drug trade,” notes the ruling from Monday. “Beyond these non-distinctive similarities, the characters are nothing alike,” it adds.
“Because Plaintiffs have not alleged facts sufficient to support access, and the works are not substantially similar as a matter of law, Plaintiffs’ copyright infringement claim is baseless,” Real concludes.
While this case now is officially terminated, Power will be back for a fifth season of “huge moves,” according to Kemp, in mid-2018.
Ex-Bill Cosby attorney Monique Pressley plus lawyers from L.A.’s Kimble Legal Consulting and Orange Law Offices represented Johnson and Keller in the case. Kemp, Jackson, Starz and the other defendants were represented by David Halberstadler and Joanna Hill of LA’s Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.