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Saban sued over ’80 Dreams’

Writer Jeff Schimmel has filed a $ 1 million-plus copyright infringement suit against Saban Entertainment and several of its executives, claiming that the company stole his idea for its animated morning show “Around the World in 80 Dreams.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, charges that Saban stole Schimmel’s treatment for a half-hour children’s animated series, which he had originally titled “The Dream Club.”

Schimmel’s story, which he claims closely parallels Saban’s show, was about a racially mixed group of children who meet in their dreams at a clubhouse and then travel around the world and through history.

“It’s my understanding that the show has been running for a year and a half,” Schimmel said. “But I only found out about it in January.”

While the show apparently airs internationally, Schimmel said he was waiting to watch the Super Bowl one Sunday when he came across the program. Saban officials would not comment on where the show airs or on the suit.

Schimmel said that his original script was taken to Saban by personal manager Rick Marcelli.

“He was negotiating to open a management company for Saban,” Schimmel said. “When his deal went south, they kept my idea.”

Schimmel’s attorney, Ian J. Imrich, of Fidler, Bell, Orrock and Watase, said they have proof that the script was physically at Saban’s Burbank offices in the fall of 1991.

The suit, which charges infringement of copyright, unfair competition and interference with prospective economic advantage, seeks $ 265,000 on the copyright charges and $ 1 million in punitive damages.

Schimmel also wants a preliminary injunction against Saban to stop it from selling, marketing or disposing of any copies of the series.

Among those named in the suit are Eric Rollman, who reportedly produced the program; Winston Richards, a writer; Saban staffers Jacquelyn Waite and Lance Robbins; and in-house counsel William Ernest Josey Jr.

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