×

CBS seeks restraining order for ‘Glass House’

Move claims ABC series copies the Eye's 'Big Brother'

CBS is seeking a temporary restraining order to halt ABC’s production and broadcast of “Glass House,” claiming that the Alphabet web’s upcoming reality series “will replicate virtually every element” of “Big Brother.”

ABC is scheduled to debut “Glass House” on June 18, but CBS filed suit last month claiming copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets and violation of non disclosure agreements. The latter claim is based on the fact that so many former staffers of “Big Brother” now work on “Glass House,” and CBS charges that they’ve used proprietary production techniques in the new show.

The Eye network’s request for a restraining order, filed late Thursday, centered on Sunday’s marathon deposition testimony of “Glass House” executive producer Kenny Rosen, former producer of “Big Brother.” CBS’s legal team, led by Scott Edelman of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, cited portions of Rosen’s deposition to claim that he had an the “guest manual” for “Big Brother” typed up and sent to ABC’s in-house counsel. CBS even charged that its manuals were “plagiarized” for use in the internal manuals of “Glass House.” They also were to cite Rosen’s testimony that he looked at the “Big Brother” master control room schedule to see how many people he needed to hire for “Glass House.” And CBS will also point to testimony from Rosen that he deleted emails after the lawsuit was filed. Another producer, Corie Henson, also is named in CBS’ suit, and the network will claim that she took a spot as VP of alternative series at ABC at the same time that “Glass House” was hatched. The Eye network also was to claim that, based on Rosen’s deposition, “Glass House” now employs 27 to 28 former “Big Brother” staffers, from the 19 originally thought.

If the court does not grant the restraining order, CBS is asking that ABC and the producers of “Glass House” produce the first taped episode by June 15 to allow them to evaluate its contents as it seeks a preliminary injunction.

The network also is continuing to pursue its copyright claim, arguing that, even as so many reality shows seem to replicate the ideas and general format of another, its “method” of storytelling earns protection. “Regardless whether the individual elements of ‘Big Brother’ are protectable expression or not, they are indisputably protected if they are ‘selected, coordinated or arranged … in an original way,” CBS’s brief states. Although some courts have failed to find infringement in some reality shows, “no previous case involved the same level of similarity and copying as this one,” the network said.

In a court filing earlier this week, ABC called CBS’ characterization of Rosen’s deposition testimony “misleading, inaccurate and wrong.” “For example, it is misleading — and frankly irrelevant to the legal claims — that Mr. Rosen said he hired more than tenty people with prior experience on ‘Big Brother.’ What CBS does not tell this court is that Mr. Rosen also testified to the vast majority of these people worked with Mr. Rosen more recently on a different reality show, “Hell’s Kitchen,” that has nothing to do with “Big Brother.” They also said that it was “preposterous” for CBS to argue that a “one page outdated master control room schedule from an old season og ‘Big Brother’ is a trade secret.” They added that Rosen ultimately decided how many story editors to hire based on the budget available to him for “Glass House,” and that it was less than half the number than on “Big Brother.”

ABC further claims that CBS doesn’t even know what “Glass House’ will be because it has yet to air. “Instead of focusing on what the ‘Glass House’ show would be, CBS’s counsel spent the majority of the deposition asking questions about trade secret issues and Mr. Rosen’s recruitment of other employees.”

ABC is represented by a legal team led by Glenn Pomerantz and Munger, Tolles & Olson. Rosen, Henson and another staffer named in the suit, Michael O’Sullivan, are represented by Devin McRae of Early Sullivan.

Rosen responded in a statement on Friday morning. “CBS first tried to intimidate me and then sued me for agreeing to work for a competing network,” he said. “What CBS is doing is wrong on many levels and I look forward to our day in court.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

  • Peter Fonda Dead: 'Easy Rider' Star

    Peter Fonda, Star of 'Easy Rider,' Dies at 79

    Two-time Oscar nominee Peter Fonda, who became a counterculture icon when he co-wrote, produced and starred in seminal 1969 road movie “Easy Rider,” then showed Hollywood he could act about three decades later in “Ulee’s Gold,” died on Friday from lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. His sister Jane Fonda [...]

  • CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to

    CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to Sarajevo

    When the organizers of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Industry Days surveyed the local TV landscape several years ago, they recognized the chance to make an impact. “We decided five years ago that we need to do something,” says CineLink industry coordinator Armin Hadzic. “The [regional] TV and public broadcasters were coming from another age.” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content