Jake Johnson, Zooey Deschanel
Two writers are going to court accusing Fox's New Girl of "blatant plagiarism" of their pilot script.
According to the lawsuit (obtained by The Hollywood Reporter), Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold claim the comedy is ripped from their script Square One. In addition to money and credit, they are demanding a "public apology" and an injunction to halt further filming and distribution of the popular series.
"Any differences between the Square One scripts and New Girl are so small and insignificant that they cannot be afforded copyright protection, and are, in fact, nothing more than transparent attempts to hide Defendants' blatant plagiarism. These differences are more akin to eraser marks or ink blots on Stephanie and Shari's creation and cannot be treated as original expression."
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Counts and Gold allegedly shopped the script for Square One through William Morris Endeavor, where it received considerable interest. The writers even proposed Zooey Deschanel as the lead for the comedy, which was based on "Stephanie's real-life experiences when she discovered her husband was having an affair, leading her to move into a three-man bachelor pad."
A few months later, WME stopped returning their calls. Then in 2011, the duo was shocked to see the concept of their script under development, now-titled Chicks and Dicks. The new project allegedly became New Girl, with authorship credited to Elizabeth Meriwether, a WME client.
The lawsuit includes an extensive list of alleged similarities between the projects, including "both protagonists are awkward, quirky women around the age of 30," and "in each work there is a cynical roommate who is a bartender" that becomes a love interest for the protagonist, "the best friend in each work is named 'CeCe" or has the initials "C.C." and the "roommates in each work act out their idiosyncrasies in identical ways."
The plaintiffs retained a lawyer and in 2012 "the Fox Defendants' attorneys make a settlement offer to Stephanie and Shari of approximately $10,000 in an attempt to silence and prevent them from seeking formal legal action against the Fox Defendants, the Chernin defendants, defendant WME, defendant Meriwether, and defendant Meriwether Pictures."
Counts and Gold's lawyer recommended they take the money, but they refused the "paltry" offer and have since hired a new attorney.
Neither Fox nor WME have commented on the lawsuit.