Writer/producer Chuck Lorre was stunned after learning about Belarusian programme The Theorists, which is strikingly similar to his own creation - it also follows the madcap antics of scientists who have a pretty blonde for a neighbour.
Lorre brought the matter to fans' attention with a message after the end credits of an episode of The Big Bang Theory which aired in the U.S. on Monday (08Feb10).
He wrote, "Belarus (has) a bustling TV production industry. One of their most recent hits is a sitcom about four nerdy scientists who live next door to a beautiful blonde waitress. The characters are named Sheldon, Leo, Hovard, Raj and Natasha, and the show is entitled, The Theorists... Each episode appears to be a Russian translation of a Big Bang Theory episode."
But when Lorre complained to attorneys at Warner Brothers about the alleged rip-off, he was informed they couldn't pursue a lawsuit: "We were told that it's next to impossible to sue for copyright infringement in Belarus because the TV production company that is ripping us off is owned and operated by the government of Belarus."
The Oscar-nominated screenwriters and book author Walter Kirn claimed the the 22nd Annual USC Libraries Scripter Award for the hit film.
The Scripters recognise the author and writers of a produced literary work-to-film adaptation.
Reitman and Turner have already won a string of awards and are favourites to land gold at the Oscars next month (Mar10).
Also honoured at the Scripters was Eric Roth, the writer behind adaptations like Forrest Gump.
He was presented with a Scripter Literary Achievement Award.
The honours were handed out at a gala ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday (07Feb10).
The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner is up for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar, competing against George Clooney (Up In The Air), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) and Colin Firth (A Single Man).
In the Best Director category, Bigelow will fight it out with her ex-husband Cameron, along with Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire) and Jason Reitman (Up In The Air).
The Hurt Locker and Avatar will lead the Best Picture category - the films are among 10 nominees for the prestigious accolade, including Up In The Air, The Blind Side and Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire.
Avatar, which smashed box office records by grossing more than $2 billion this weekend (30-31Jan10) to become the best-selling international release of all time, is also nominated for a slew of technical awards, such as Best Art Direction, Best Editing and Best Cinematography.
Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock has landed her first Oscar nomination for The Blind Side - the star will go up against Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire) for the title of Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) are among the nominees for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar, while Penelope Cruz (Nine), Mo'Nique (Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Horse) and Up In The Air's Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick will battle for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role prize.
The nominees for 10 of the 24 categories were unveiled by Anne Hathaway and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak at an early morning news conference on Tuesday (02Feb10) at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The Oscars, presented by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, will be handed out on 7 March (10) at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
The nominees for the 10 main categories are as follows:
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
George Clooney - Up In The Air
Colin Firth - A Single Man
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Helen Mirren - The Last Station
Carey Mulligan - An Education
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Matt Damon - Invictus
Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Penelope Cruz - Nine
Vera Farmiga - Up In The Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Horse
Anna Kendrick - Up In The Air
Mo'Nique - Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
James Cameron - Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels - Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
Jason Reitman - Up In The Air
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up In The Air
Best Original Screenplay:
Mark Boal - The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman - The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen - A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy - Up
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche - In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell - District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher - Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
Nick Hornby - An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner - Up In The Air
Best Animated Film:
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Best Foreign Language Film:
El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Argentina)
Un Prophete (France)
The White Ribbon (Germany)
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru).
Clooney is renowned for playing jokes on his movie crew and castmates but decided to behave himself while shooting Reitman's award-winning drama, in which he stars as a corporate downsizer.
Reitman admits he was surprised to have escaped the actor's pranks on set - but he soon realised he had become another one of Clooney's victims at the 17 January (10) awards show when his Golden Globe went missing.
The director says, "He never pranked anybody during the shoot and we all felt a little hurt to be honest, and then the other night at the Golden Globes, he hid my Golden Globe!"
Reitman was awarded the honour alongside his Up In The Air co-writer Sheldon Turner.
Crazy Heart won for Best Song and Best Actor/Drama (Jeff Bridges), while moviemaker James Cameron was named Best Director for Avatar, which also took home the Best Motion Picture/Drama honour.
It was a big day for the sci-fi blockbuster which became the first film of the new century to claim five weeks at number one at the U.S. box office earlier in the day.
It also passed Star Wars to become the third biggest-grossing movie in America. The film has already become the second most successful film globally - behind Cameron's Titanic.
The Hangover claimed the night's other top movie award for Comedy or Musical and Robert Downey Jr. was a surprise Best Actor/Comedy or Musical winner for his turn as super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.
Best Actress awards went to Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep, who shared the honour and a kiss at the Critics Choice Movie Awards on Friday night (15Jan10).
Other double winners were Up, which claimed the Best Animated Feature Film and Best Score, TV drama Dexter, which picked up acting honours for John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall and TV movie Grey Gardens.
The evening was bittersweet for many celebrities, who had the earthquake disaster in Haiti on their minds.
Maggie Gyllenhaal urged everyone to give generously to charity causes, while stars paid tribute to George Clooney, who is organising a celebrity telethon on Friday night (22Jan10), on the red carpet and the stage.
And it was a big night to honour spouses with winners Sandra Bullock, Mo'Nique, Robert Downey Jr., Michael C. Hall and James Cameron fighting back tears as they honoured husbands and wives.
The full list of winners is:
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture - Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best Actress in a TV Series/Comedy or Musical - Toni Collette (United States of Tara)
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Miniseries or TV Movie - John Lithgow (Dexter)
Best Animated Feature Film - Up
Best Actor in a TV Series/Drama - Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Best Actress in a TV Series/Drama - Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Best Original Song/Motion Picture - The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart)
Best Original Score/Motion Picture - Michael Giacchino (Up)
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie - Grey Gardens
Best Actress in a Motion Picture/Comedy or Musical - Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie - Kevin Bacon (Taking Chance)
Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie - Drew Barrymore (Grey Gardens)
Best Screenplay/Motion Picture - Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner (Up In The Air)
Best Actor in a TV Series/Comedy or Musical - Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Best Foreign Language Film - The White Ribbon
Best TV Series/Drama - Mad Men
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Miniseries or TV Movie - Chloe Sevigny (Big Love)
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture - Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Director - James Cameron (Avatar)
Best TV Series/Comedy or Musical - Glee
Best Motion Picture/Comedy or Musical - The Hangover
Best Actress in a Motion Picture/Drama - Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture/Comedy or Musical - Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture/Drama - Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Best Motion Picture/Drama - Avatar
Cecil B. DeMille Award - Martin Scorsese
Avatar claimed six honours, including all the night's technical awards, Inglourious Basterds picked up three and The Hurt Locker doubled up with two of the event's biggest awards for Best Directing (Kathryn Bigelow) and Best Picture.
Nine was the night's big flop - the musical was completely shut out, despite scoring 10 nominations last month (Dec09).
The night's double winners were Up and Crazy Heart, for which Jeff Bridges claimed the Best Actor honour.
The event threw up a moment of drama when both Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep were named Best Actress - the stars pretended to stage a tense face off on stage at the Hollywood Palladium.
The list of winners is:
Best Acting Ensemble - Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best Action Movie - Avatar
Best Animated Feature - Up
Best Young Actor/Actress - Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Comedy - The Hangover
Best Song - The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart)
Best Documentary - The Cove
Best Picture Made for TV - Grey Gardens
Best Foreign Language Film - Broken Embraces
Best Score - Michael Giacchino (Up)
Best Costume Design - Sandy Powell (The Young Victoria)
Best Make-Up - District 9
Best Art Direction - Rick Carter & Robert Stromberg (Avatar)
Best Visual Effects - Avatar
Best Sound - Avatar
Best Cinematography - Mauro Fiore (Avatar)
Best Editing - Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua & James Cameron (Avatar)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner (Up In The Air)
Best Original Screenplay - Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Directing - Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Best Actor - Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Best Actress - Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) & Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Picture - The Hurt Locker
Joel Siegel Award - Kevin Bacon
The hard-hitting war movie has been named the group's Best Film of 2009, while director Kathryn Bigelow picked up the organisation's Best Director award.
The film also landed a Best Cinematography award.
Inglourious Basterds was also a three-win film in Austin, claiming honours for Best Actress (Melanie Laurent), Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz) and Best Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino).
Colin Firth was named Best Actor for his work in A Single Man and Anna Kendrick claimed another Best Supporting Actress honour for Up In The Air. Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner received the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Up In The Air.
Austin critics named Me & Orson Welles star Christian McKay their Breakthrough Artist Award and local hero Richard Linklater landed his second Austin Film Award, which is given to the best local director or locally made film.
Family film Up won gold in the Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score fields and Cary Fukunaga's Spanish-language thriller Sin Nombre was named Best Foreign Language Film, while the Best Documentary honour went to Sacha Gervasi's Anvil! The Story of Anvil.
Meanwhile, Jim Carrey's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was named the Austin critics' Best Film of the Decade, ahead of There Will Be Blood and The Lord of The Rings.
The drama landed the Best Film award, while Kathryn Bigelow was named Best Director for her work on the picture, which stars Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce and Evangeline Lilly.
Jeff Bridges was honoured as Best Actor for his portrayal of a washed-up country singer in Crazy Heart and British newcomer Carey Mulligan earned Best Actress for her role in An Education.
Best Supporting Actor went to Christoph Waltz for his part in Inglourious Basterds, and Mo’Nique landed Best Supporting Actress for her role in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.
Other winners included The White Ribbon, which won the Best Cinematography trophy, while Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner were handed the Best Screenplay prize for Up in the Air.
Krueger founded the San Diego, California-based annual comic book festival with Dorf in 1970. He died of a heart attack on Saturday (21Nov09).
Dorf died earlier this month (03Nov09) from kidney failure. He was 76.
This year's (09) event was attended by more than 125,000 people and included appearances from director Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Twilight stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner.
The actress has accused Edmonton Oilers player Sheldon Souray of reviving their relationship after a year-long separation, before convincing her to agree to a divorce in a bid to give the couple a "fresh start", reports TMZ.com.
But according to Bridges' lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Souray only wanted to make their split official to prevent her from taking any of his new $27 million (£18 million) contract with the National Hockey League.
Bridges is seeking $14 million (£9.3 million) in damages, on top of the monthly $18,000 (£12,000) she receives in child support.
The couple, who married in 2002, has two children, daughters Valentina Raine and Scarlett Skye.