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Lawsuit Filed Against ABC Family For Stolen Idea

Disney Co. and its affiliates ABC and ABC Family, along with its former director of development Beth Miller, were sued by two TV producers claiming their idea for a Christmas movie was stolen by ABC Family, in Superior Court on Monday.

Producers Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum pitched their story concept to ABC Family and even submitted a formal treatment in 2005 to then director of development for ABC Family, Beth Miller.  The cable network turned down the producers’ idea for a Christmas TV movie, entitled I Hate Christmas.  The two producers describe their concept as a “girl’s version of the film Groundhog Day with its own unique twist” but say ABC Family stole their story concept with The 12 Dates of Christmas.  

However, there is a list plenty long with movies that focus on a character reliving the same day over and over.  For example, 50 First Dates, Tru Calling, Christmas Everyday, Groundhog Day, etc. are all movies that have the same plot line.  Obviously the tricky part when it comes to copyright laws for written ideas/ pieces of work is the proof that someone actually stole an idea from a copy written piece of work.

Apparently both movies are set on Christmas Eve, feature a heroine who plans to wed a man who is a mismatch, ultimately repeating Christmas day over and over until the heroine learns from her mistakes.

Grossbard and Rosenblum saw the ABC Family movie, The 12 Dates of Christmas in December of 2011, and were shocked from the similarities of the on-air movie and their unproduced film. The duo provided ABC Family with an eight-page treatment written with writer Denise Gruska.  The cable network considered the project for several months before ultimately deciding not to produce the script. Grossbard and Rosenblum say the ABC Family movie used a number of very specific devices that they had suggested to  Miller, who at the time, was a producer of the movie.

Grossbard has been successful with Christmas movies in the past, considering the producer has The Christmas Shoes for CBS (2002) and the sequel The Christmas Blessing (2005), along with The Christmas Hope for Lifetime (2009) on her resume.

Representing the producers Grossbard and Rosenblum is Stephen Goldberg, who will seek damages for breach of implied-in-fact contract and breach of confidence.  When reporters tried to seek comments from Disney, the company said it does not comment on pending litigation.


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