01/21/2014 05:43 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Fox's 'New Girl' Sued For Plagiarism, Intellectual Property Theft

Hollywood's about to have a major headache over the fun and quirky show "New Girl."

Screenwriters Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold have filed a lawsuit claiming that they are the true creators of the hit Fox series. They are suing the show's creator Elizabeth Meriwether, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, executive-producer Peter Chernin, executive-producer Jacob Kasdan and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. for plagiarism, claiming that "New Girl" is a ripoff of their own original script.

The Hollywood Reporter has attained a copy of Counts and Gold's suit, which demands monetary compensation, credit for the show and an injunction to halt any further filming and distribution.

Counts and Gold claim that when they shopped their original pilot, titled "Square One," around town through William Morris Endeavor (WME), it was received with favorable reviews and interest, but they had not been able to make a deal to sell it.

Once "New Girl" was produced and aired to rave reviews in 2011, Counts and Gold retained a lawyer and informed the defendants that they were infringing upon the content of "Square One." Fox allegedly made the writers a $10,000 settlement offer, but they refused the money.

"Square One" is based on Counts' real-life experience of moving into a three-man bachelor pad after learning that her husband was having an affair. The suit claims that "New Girl" is all but identical to Counts and Gold's work, saying, "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."

The documents list many similarities between "Square One" and "New Girl," including the following, "both protagonists are awkward, quirky women around the age of thirty," "the name of the protagonist’s unfaithful beau in each work is Spencer," "the plot of both works revolves around the protagonist moving in with three guys," "the three new guy roommates in each work have identical personality traits" and "the best friend in each work is named “CeCe” or has the initials 'C.C.'."

The lawsuit claims that Counts and Gold are entitled to far more than a payoff for the theft. It states that an after-the-fact check would be "inadequate to compensate them for the damages done," and that they will seek credit as the show's true creators and a public apology as well as "compensatory, statutory, punitive and exemplary damages."

Read the entire suit at The Hollywood Reporter.



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