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Judge Rejects ‘New Girl’ Idea Theft Case

A federal judge has rejected claims that the Fox series “New Girl” was lifted from a screenplay called “Square One.”

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson granted summary judgment to creator Elizabeth Meriwether, Fox, WME Entertainment, Peter Chernin and other defendants. He concluded that the plaintiffs, Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold, had provided insufficient evidence to show that Meriwether or Chernin had access to their script “Square One.” Even if they had, he wrote, they also failed to show that there was “substantial similarity” between the two works, a prerequisite before such idea theft cases can move forward.

The two writers claimed that they wrote a TV script based on Counts’ personal experiences when she learned that her husband was cheating on her and moved into a three-man bachelor pad. They later wrote a feature-length screenplay and submitted it to agents, production companies and talent.

A central feature of their case was that they submitted “Square One” to Adam Venit and later David Karp, both agents at WME, which also represented the principals behind “New Girl.” The agency’s Cori Wellins represented Meriwether and Rick Rosen represented Chernin.

But Wilson wrote that the two writers “have only provided additional theories of access, rather than a qualitatively stronger theory of access than that of bare corporate receipt.” He noted that Venit and Karp did not represent any clients involved in “New Girl.” Although WME gave “Square One” favorable coverage, accessible through an agency database, Wilson wrote that such a fact still fell short of establishing that Wellins or Rosen accessed it.

All of the defendants except WME were represented by a legal team led by Jonathan Zavin of Loeb & Loeb. Counts and Gold were repped by Francis Malofiy of Francis Alexander. WME was represented by Michael J. Kump of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump and Aldisert.

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