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Jun 15, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Boot Camp motion gets squashed

A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles refused yesterday to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit against Fox, rejecting the network’s claim that its “Boot Camp” reality series differs from CBS’s “Survivor,” because the latter has been described in another lawsuit as being a rigged drama — and is therefore not as a reality series.

CBS is currently battling Stacey Stillman’s lawsuit, which claimed the original run of “Survivor” was a manipulated drama, designed to force the vote to kick her off the island in favor of keeping the last remaining elder contestant Rudy Boesch. Even if the outcome of “Survivor” is found to have been manipulated, CBS still has the right to protect its show from being copied, U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird said in a ruling released Thursday.

“Moreover, permitting such allegations to be developed at trial will simply distract from the core issue of copyright infringement and will needlessly complicate the proceedings,” Judge Baird was quoted as saying in an Associated Press report. Lawyers for Fox and “Boot Camp” had hoped to use the manipulation claims as a motion for the court to dismiss CBS’s copyright infringement case.

CBS sued Fox on April 9, charging that “Boot Camp” copied “Survivor’s” idea of putting contestants in harsh conditions and requiring them to complete difficult tasks and vote each other out. Fox denies copying the show. A trial date is pending.

Timberman signs writers to Studios USA: On the heels of taking over this week as Studios USA Programming president, Sarah Timberman has moved to sign fellow Columbia TriStar Television co-workers and producers Danielle Stokdyk and Jennifer Gwartz to multiyear development deals with Barry Diller’s Studios USA programming operations. Beginning July 2, Ms. Stokdyk and Ms. Gwartz will serve as nonwriting producers in developing drama and comedy series.

Studios USA programming has also sealed a separate multiyear development deal with writer-producer Steve Koren, who is best known in Hollywood circles as a co-producer of NBC’s former “Seinfeld” sitcom and as a writer-producer of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” (1992-96). Mr. Koren, who had two comedy series in development (“H.U.D.” and an untitled sitcom at NBC), has also co-produced and written two feature films, “Superstar” and “A Night at the Roxbury.” He is represented by Creative Artists Agency and attorney Matthew Saver.

Ms. Stokdyk and Ms. Gwartz served as co-heads of drama development at Columbia TriStar Television since 1999, where they reported to Ms. Timberman, who was then the studio’s executive vice president of development. This past development season, the producing pair sold 30 drama scripts to five broadcast networks, Lifetime and Showtime. Five pilots were produced: “The Guardian” (CBS), “Pasadena” (Fox), “Sam’s Circus” (CBS), “Heart Department” (CBS) and “HRT” (CBS). “The Guardian” and “Pasadena” will both air in the fall.

While in drama development, Ms. Stokdyk was involved in the development of “Family Law” (CBS) and “Young Americans” (The WB).

Prior to serving as co-head of drama at Columbia TriStar, Ms. Stokdyk was in current programming at Columbia TriStar, working on such series as “Party of Five” (Fox) and “Cupid” (ABC).

Before joining Columbia TriStar, she was vice president of production at Trilogy Entertainment, where she oversaw such series as “Outer Limits” (for Showtime and in syndication).

Prior to Columbia TriStar, Ms. Gwartz served as executive director of drama series at ABC Entertainment, working on such series as “Fantasy Island” and “Vengeance Unlimited.”

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications