Attorneys for CBS Corp. claim the producer of an upcoming ABC reality series copied materials from his time on "Big Brother" and deleted emails that could have proved important in a case over whether the new show should be allowed to air.
The allegations were included in a filing Thursday that asked a federal judge to block the June 18 premiere of ABC's "The Glass House." CBS claims the series copies heavily from its hit show "Big Brother" and relies on experience and techniques used on that long-running series.
CBS' case focuses heavily on the notion that ABC is relying on the experience of roughly 30 former "Big Brother" staffers now working at "Glass House," including Executive Producer Kenny Rosen.
Rosen acknowledged in a recent deposition that he deleted emails after ABC had been warned by CBS that it would be sued, court documents said. It also alleges that Rosen directed a staffer to copy manuals he obtained while working on "Big Brother."
That would violate a non-disclosure agreement Rosen signed while working with CBS and could be a basis for blocking ABC from airing "Glass House," CBS' attorneys argue.
"It may be rare that a court enjoins a television show from proceeding ... but if ever there were a time to do so, this is it," CBS attorneys wrote in their motion.
Much of Rosen's deposition testimony was redacted from public copies of the filings, but CBS said in a statement that his testimony "further demonstrates the brazen lengths that former `Big Brother' producers have gone to use confidential material, obtained while under our employment, to develop this new show."
ABC's attorneys responded Friday by requesting that the motion not be heard before "Glass House" premieres, arguing that an order blocking the show from airing would harm its network and potentially leave 140 employees jobless.
"In the end, this entire litigation appears to be an effort by CBS to knock out a competitive show in the courtroom, rather than compete in the homes of American viewers who could choose which the best show is (or choose to watch both)," ABC's lawyers wrote.
No hearing date on CBS' motion has been set, but both sides have been arguing for weeks over evidence. ABC and Rosen have denied wrongdoing and issued statements in response to CBS' motion.
"CBS first tried to intimidate me and then sued me for agreeing to work for a competing network," Rosen wrote in a statement. "What CBS is doing is wrong on many levels and I look forward to our day in court."
ABC wrote in a statement that it was "a naked attempt by CBS to stifle competition and creativity by claiming that reality techniques that have been developed over many years, on many shows by countless producers, are somehow exclusive to CBS."
ABC has continued work on its show even after CBS sued the network on May 10, alleging copyright infringement and violation of trade secrets. Its filing Friday argued that CBS cannot win on copyright grounds, noting that an idea itself is not protected by copyright laws.
Fourteen "Glass House" contestants were announced Monday, including a bail bondsman, a scientist and a bar mitzvah DJ. The contestants will become housemates and compete for a $250,000 prize. Audience feedback will help shape the contestants' daily life and who stays in the game.
"Big Brother" is scheduled to begin airing its 14th season in the United States in early July.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP