Was New Girl Plagiarized? Fox, William Morris, Others Sued Over Pilot Script

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Was <em>New Girl</em> Plagiarized? Fox, William Morris, Others Sued Over Pilot Script

Crazy news out of California: two writers, Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold, are suing Fox, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, writer Elizabeth Meriwether and director Jake Kasdan for allegedly stealing the pilot to New Girl from their script, Square One. The plaintiffs are demanding monetary compensation, a public apology and an immediate injunction that would stop the show from filming new episodes.

According to the lawsuit, which you can read via The Hollywood Reporter, Counts and Gold wrote their script in 2006, and it was based largely on Counts’ “real-life experience when she discovered her husband was having an affair, leading her to move into a three-man bachelor pad.” The similarities raise an eyebrow; in each, a woman moves into a house with three men, all of whom have identical personality traits across both scripts. The best friend of the main character is named CeC, or C.C., and the protagonist has limited sexual experience. Counts and Gold also wanted Zooey Deschanel to be their lead.

The second requirement for demonstrating “substantial similarity” is to show that the script could be connected to the defendants, and that the alleged theft wasn’t simply an independent creation. Counts and Gold claim they shopped the script through William Morris, who set them up with an agent, and received approval from WME. After that, it sat on the backburner throughout 2008, leading the two to fire their agent. Three years later, they were alarmed when a pilot called Chicks and Dicks by Elizabeth Meriwether, which later became New Girl, looked very similar to Square One.

The two retained an attorney, and in January 2012 Fox offered to settle for $10,000. Insulted, Counts and Gold continued on with another attorney, and the official suit was filed in California federal court yesterday.

Hollywood Reporter has more details, but for now this is a dramatic turn for one of Fox’s most popular shows.