Now this is a story all about how a life got twisted upside down. Well, not really, but a star of ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air claims in a new lawsuit that Warner Bros and Telepictures swiped her idea for the daytime talk show The Real.
Tatyana Ali says she came up with the concept for the show and eventually pitched to execs in 2012 but was told they “decided to decline.” The Real debuted about six months later as “a direct production” of the concept she hatched, according to the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here). “With a great deal of disappointment and complete disbelief,” the suit says, Ali “witnessed [her] concept come to life on major network television at the hands of the Defendant Corporations.”
Warner Bros did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment.
The suit claims Ali came up with an idea for a reality-based daytime talk show with “a unique and innovative format, which featured an eclectic group of engaging female celebrity hosts, each aged within their 20’s and 30’s … designed to pique the interest of the younger side of the mid-life/mid-career female population and featured a variety of contemporary discussion topics in a relaxed and informal setting.” The Real premiered in July 2013 for a test run on Fox-owned stations, featuring co-hosts Adrienne Bailon, Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Tamara Mowry.
“The five female host panel cast members very closely embody and mirror the personal and professional profiles of the specific and potential female celebrity hosts openly proposed in writing and in discussion by the Plaintiff during ‘pitch’ meetings she held with the Executives,” the suit says. “The Defendant Corporations did not at any time, directly or indirectly, acknowledge the use of the Plaintiff’s Concept.” The show later was greenlighted for national syndication that fall and remains on the air and in renewed through 2018 in the spring.
The execs who were at that meeting in December 2012 were Hilary Estes McLoughlin, then-president of creative affairs at CBS Television Distribution, and Sheila Bouttier, who was SVP Development at Telepictures Productions. Both are named as defendants along with Warner Bros Entertainment, Warner Bros Domestic Television Distribution and Telepictures.
The suit seeks unspecified damages from “all rightful gains, profits, and advantages derived by the Defendants” and the formation of a collective trust for Ali of “designated percentages of the proceeds resulting from past, current and future production and airing of The Real television program.”
Los Angeles-based attorney James Leonard Brown is representing Ali in the case.
Deadline’s Dominic Patten contributed to this report