The strangers-living-in-a-house battle between ABC and CBS is heating up… and fast. After a seven-hour deposition for The Glass House Executive Producer (and former Big Brother producer) Kenny Rosen, CBS filed an application for a temporary restraining order against ABC. Now the looming question is whether or not the ABC series will premiere on its scheduled June 18 air date.
As of June 8, ABC still plans to air The Glass House in its originally scheduled slot, and the network released a statement to Hollywood.com, discounting the validity of the restraining order:
“This is 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.”
And that point is exactly why CBS’ case is so difficult. Earlier, Hollywood.com spoke with entertainment lawyer Neil J. Rosini, who said CBS’ potential for success “would depend on what kind of proof comes out. But I don’t think that’s an easy hill to climb either for CBS.” The eye network has two cases to prove: That Big Brother’s format is “protectable” and that ABC’s similar techniques are truly unique to CBS. Second, CBS has to prove that the supposed “trade secrets” that Rosen is to have stolen are exactly that: trade secrets. According to Rosini, that’s the rub. “I think that’s difficult to monopolize and own,” he says.
Still, Rosen’s deposition added some more fuel to CBS’s fire. According to Deadline, it was revealed that Rosen used CBS’s confidential Big Brother Guest Manual in the creation of the ABC series; he “consulted” the Master Control Room Schedule to determine how many people to hire; he hired more former Big Brother employees than he previously admitted; and he acknowledged that he deleted many Glass House-related emails when CBS filed the lawsuit against ABC. This evidence certainly ups the ante on CBS’ claim that Rosen stole Big Brother secrets, but the crutch of it all rests on their ability to prove that those “secrets” are accessible only to someone in possession of CBS’ documents. And according to Rosini, that’s not so easy. “A number of these things could be picked up just from watching the program, I think. And anything that’s accessible to the public by watching the program can’t be a trade secret,” he says.
In the meantime, CBS is requesting that at the very least, ABC release footage from the series so the court may better determine how closely Glass House is to CBS’ reality behemoth. The restraining order application states, “If the Court is not willing to order Defendants to cease production of Glass House at this time, CBS respectfully requests that, at a minimum, the Court order Defendants to produce the first taped episode of Glass House by June 15, 2012 to allow CBS’s counsel to evaluate its contents, and to allow the parties to address it in any further briefing regarding CBS’s request for a preliminary injunction.”
The application has not yet been approved, but in the case that it is, we could see Glass House postponed. And should the series move its premiere date back, the legal battle could shift to an actual ratings battle as Big Brother is set to return Thursday, July 12.
Will you choose one series over the other? Or will you thank your lucky stars television has bestowed two editions of house-arrest reality drama upon us (three if you count this show about baboons) and watch both?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.