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Producer Sues ‘Champ’ Creators

Sep 1, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The legal matches surrounding the reality boxing show “The Next Great Champ” aren’t over yet. Independent film and television producer Leigh Ann Burton on Wednesday filed a civil complaint for damages in Los Angeles Superior Court against Oscar De La Hoya and his company, Golden Boy Promotions, accusing him and his company of taking her idea for “Champ.”

Ms. Burton alleges breach of implied-in-fact contract, breach of confidence and unfair competition, among other claims. Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions and an executive producer of the show, is also named as a defendant. Ms. Burton is seeking a jury trial and punitive damages.

According to the suit, Ms. Burton said in August 2003 she conceived and developed the idea for a reality television series that placed unknown boxers and their significant others in a training compound to compete for the grand prize of a Las Vegas fight. She said she then prepared a treatment and registered with the Writers Guild of America in September.

She claims that in October 2003, she faxed Golden Boy Productions a letter inquiring whether there was any interest in a boxing reality television show. According to the suit, Mr. Schaefer responded to her fax that day and set up a meeting for Oct. 7 at Golden Boy’s offices. Ms. Burton said Mr. De La Hoya attended the meeting via telephone where she orally pitched her idea and provided a copy of her treatment to the defendants. The suit claims it was agreed that the defendants would not use her idea and concept without her consent, and then only if she were appropriately compensated for such use.

In March 2004 Ms. Burton learned of Golden Boy Promotions’ relationship with Endemol USA and their plan to launch “Champ” on Fox. Ms. Burton is accusing the defendants of using her ideas without her knowledge and consent, and without compensating her.