'Champ' suit belts De La Hoya
Fox’s “The Next Great Champ” is headed into the lawsuit ring yet again.
Producer Leigh Ann Burton has filed a complaint against Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions, claiming the boxer stole her idea for a reality show.
Endemol USA and Lock & Key Prods. created “Next Great Champ,” and have separately been accused of stealing the idea by rival boxing show producers DreamWorks TV and Mark Burnett Prods., the duo behind NBC’s “The Contender.”
Fox, Endemol and Lock & Key won the right last week to launch “Next Great Champ” on Sept. 7 as planned (Daily Variety, Aug. 30) after “The Contender” partners failed to secure a temporary restraining order against the show.
Burton, meanwhile, is only suing De La Hoya and Golden Boy, filing suit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming breach of implied-in-fact contract, unfair competition and other claims.
According to the suit, Burton had sealed a deal with GRB Entertainment (“Next Action Star”) to develop a boxing show, and registered her idea in September with the Writers Guild. Burton pitched the idea last fall to De La Hoya and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, both of whom, she said, expressed interest in the project.
Negotiations with De La Hoya fell apart by January, however, and the boxer and Golden Boy later joined the Fox/Endemol project. Burton contends that “Next Great Champ” is a carbon copy of her idea; her lawyer, Bruce Broillet, declined comment on this fall’s other boxing show, “The Contender.”
“I’m looking forward to putting Golden Boy under oath,” Broillet said. “We have the treatment registered with the Writers Guild, and we have her communications in writing with the people from Golden Boy… She had an agreement with Golden Boy.”
Stephen Espinoza, attorney for Golden Boy Promotions, said in a statement that he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on its specifics.
“However, the public comments from Ms. Burton and her counsel concerning what occurred between the parties are simply not true,” Espinoza said. “Golden Boy Promotions and Mr. Schaefer have done nothing wrong, and Ms. Burton’s claims to the contrary are utterly without merit.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)