A new lawsuit claims the idea for Fox’s hit comedy series “New Girl” was stolen from a script by two unknown writers, which was secretly given to show producers within the talent agency they shared.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Central California on Thursday, alleges that a television pilot based on the real-life breakup of writer Stephanie Counts and co-written by Shari Gould was used without their knowledge or permission as the basis for “New Girl.”
Counts and Gold say their script, which at the time was a feature screenplay called “Square One,” was passed to “New Girl” creator and executive producer Elizabeth Meriwether and former Fox chief Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment, both of whom were represented by William Morris Endeavor.
The plaintiffs say their script was in development at Endeavor (later William Morris Endeavor), where they worked with several different agents to find a director for the project. The writers allegedly worked with WME and an independent producer from 2006 to 2010 before the relationships broke down.
Then, in February 2011, the lawsuit says the plaintiffs heard about the pilot for “New Girl,” which, like their script, featured a quirky girl who had just gone through a bad breakup and moved in with three men. The lawsuit details dozens of other specific similarities between the “Square One” script and the pilot for “New Girl.”
Counts and Gold allege that the William Morris Endeavor agency gave their script to the “New Girl” producers because Chernin Entertainment’s lucrative deal with 20th Century Fox Television meant automatic greenlights, and pressure was on the agents to deliver projects.
WME, Chernin, Meriwether, 21st Century Fox and executive producer and director Jacob Kasdan are named as defendants.
Counts and Gold seek unspecified monetary damages as well as credit on the series and an injunction against further filming and distribution.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.