Granada Entertainment is in talks with Carsey-Werner to co-produce “Earth Scum,” an ABC sitcom in development for mid-season, which Granada contends was adapted from its British series “Puny Humans” without permission.
Carsey-Werner originally approached Granada seeking to buy the rights to “Puny Humans,” a comedy about a mixed marriage between an alien and a human who run a bar on another planet, sources say.
Planning ‘Puny’ pitch
Granada decided against selling the rights to Carsey-Werner because the company is trying to beef up its own U.S. production arm and was ready to pitch a version of “Puny Humans” here itself. Granada already took its first crack at adapting one of its British series, “Cracker,” which aired on ABC earlier this season.
Even without owning the rights, Carsey-Werner went ahead and sold a script whose contents were very similar to “Puny Humans,” to ABC. Sources say the project was even listed on one early ABC development report as “Puny Humans,” although the name was subsequently changed to “Earth Scum.”
Granada began exchanging letters with Carsey-Werner claiming that the indie production company had no right to sell the project. Carsey-Werner told Granada the two shows were unrelated, but subsequently offered to give Granada an ownership stake in the series, sources say. Granada declined and is now negotiating for a co-production deal, sources say.
Granada had no comment, and a spokesman for Carsey-Werner said, “We’ve been in open discussions with Granada and continue to talk to them.”
ABC also declined comment, but last week, the network and Carsey-Werner cast British actor Mark Addy (“The Full Monty”) to star in “Earth Scum,” and the two sides appear to be moving forward on the series (Daily Variety, May 4).
Unless the dispute between Granada and Carsey-Werner gets resolved, though, “ABC is not going to want to put something on the air that’s legally entangled,” one source said.
Willing to agree
Despite the disagreement over ownership of the project, Granada does not appear anxious to file a lawsuit anytime soon, and both sides are in “settlement mode,” one source said. In fact, the two companies may have mutual interests both here and abroad.
Carsey-Werner has opened a distribution office in the United Kingdom and has expressed interest in breaking into British production. Granada is one of Britain’s major broadcasters and production companies, and for Carsey-Werner to have Granada as an ally there could aid its efforts to crack that market.
Conversely, Carsey-Werner is one of the most well-respected and influential production companies in Hollywood, responsible for such series as “Roseanne,” “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Cosby,” “Grace Under Fire” and “Cybill.” Partnering with Carsey-Werner could raise Granada’s profile in Hollywood.
“Puny Humans” isn’t the first British TV series Carsey-Werner has tried to adapt for American TV.
“Cosby” and the now-canceled NBC sitcom “Men Behaving Badly” were both British adaptations, and in its early days, many observers pointed out similarities between “Cybill” and the British comedy “Absolutely Fabulous.”