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Quantico Producer Sued for Idea Theft

The lawsuit claims the concept was stolen from their documentary

Sadie Gennis

Quanticoproducer Mark Gordon has been sued by filmmakers claiming he stole the idea for the ABC freshman drama from their documentary film.

In 1999, CNN aired Jamie Hellman and Barbara Leibovitz's Quantico: The Making of an FBI Agent, which followed a class of recruits throughout their 16-week training program.

Business executive Paula Paizes, Hellman and Leibovitz thought the documentary "could manifest into a movie or television series." According to the suit, Paizes brought the project to Gordon in 2001 and his company optioned it. The following spring, Leibovitz and Hellman say they signed a deal with the Mark Gordon Company and provided all their notes, transcripts and other information pertaining to the documentary.

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In 2003, the suit claims, Gordon says he "would be happy to discuss [the Quantico project] when I get back. It's a good idea. However, neither he nor his company allegedly made any more efforts to develop the concept.

According to the suit, the project was originally conceived as a movie that would include "a conspiracy inside the FBI Academy" and questions over who one could trust. The Quantico series, which premiered in September, follows a group of FBI trainees, one of whom turns out to be a terrorist. In each episode, Special Agent Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) must figure out who she can trust and who is framing her. "The plot for Quantico substantially resembles the plotlines created and molded by Paizes," the lawsuit alleges.

Now Hellman, Leibovitz and Paizes are suing for breach of contract, fiduciary duty, a "based on" credit for Hellman and Leibovitz's documentary and actual and punitive damages. The Mark Gordon Company has not yet responded to the suit.