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Writer Claims CAA Ripped Off TV Pilot

A TV writer filed suit against Creative Artists Agency on Tuesday, alleging that his agents stole his idea for a show and gave it to a higher-profile client.

John Musero worked as a writer on the Aaron Sorkin show “The Newsroom” in 2014. The following year, he says he wrote a pilot called “Main Justice,” which would focus on the inner workings of the U.S. attorney general’s office. Though the series was optioned and developed by the Mark Gordon Co., it never went beyond that.

Musero’s suit alleges that another CAA client, Sascha Penn, sold a pilot called “Main Justice” to CBS in 2018. The show was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Television and former Attorney General Eric Holder, and similarly focused on the attorney general’s office. The suit claims that both pilots ended with an assassination attempt on the attorney general.

The suit contains echoes of the ongoing fight between talent agencies and the Writers Guild of America, which claims that agents take packaging fees at the expense of their own clients.

“This is not a case where our client was packaged. This is something more egregious,” said Musero’s attorney, Stephen Doniger. “This is something where the agent said, ‘You have a great idea, I can make a small percentage selling your idea or I can take your idea and give it to a bigger client, and make a much bigger fee.'”

The suit accuses CAA of breaching its fiduciary duty to Musero.

Craig Holden, an attorney for CAA, said the agency denies the allegations.

“Mr. Musero has not been a client for some time,” he said. “CAA protected and advanced his interests when he was a client, and any suggestion that his agents acted improperly is inaccurate. We will vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

“Main Justice” was not picked up by CBS for the 2018 season.

The suit also alleges that CAA failed to properly market another Musero pilot, called “Influence.” Additionally, Musero claims that CAA failed to get him hired on other TV series after “The Newsroom” was canceled.

Musero is a former prosecutor who once worked in-house at Columbia Pictures, according to the suit. In 2010, Musero sued Sacha Baron Cohen, claiming that a joke in the film “Bruno” had been lifted from a Musero’s unproduced script. That case was dismissed.

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