Black-ish creator Kenya Barris has been hit with a lawsuit. The new legal drama, comes just days after it was announced that he landed an overall feature films deal at 20th Century Fox. The TV producer and creator has been accused of ripping off the idea for the hit ABC show. He is now being sued for more than $1M.
The suit was filed on Friday in LA by video and movie director Bryan Barber. The lawsuit reads,
Plaintiff is informed and believes that at some point between the end of 2006 and September 2014, Defendant Barris – using Plaintiff’s idea for the Original Untitled Script – wrote, developed and shopped the pilot episode for Black-ish without Plaintiff s knowledge or authorization. Indeed, Defendant Barris intentionally concealed these facts from Plaintiff. The pilot episode for Black-ish was predicated in all material respects on Plaintiff s idea and/or the Original Untitled Script.
Barber claims that he produced a script based on his life that he and fellow Clark Atlanta University and alleged old friend Barris co-wrote for VH1 back in the last decade and the idea was ‘hijacked’.
He claims that it was retooled into the September 24, 2014, into the hit series that now stars Anthony Anderson.
Barber is said to be a legit director and directed the 2006 Idlewild film, which starred OutKast (whose members include André 3000 and Big Boi), Paula Patton,Terrence Howard and Faizon Love. In his lawsuit, he lays out an alleged timeline, suggesting he and Barris had connected in the past.
The complaint naming Barris, Black-ish EP Larry Wilmore’s Wilmore Films, Principato-Young Entertainment and Cinema Gypsy Productions as defendants says,
The Original Untitled Script was premised on Plaintiff s idea for a television show about the black experience as seen through the lens of a successful, creative and affluent black man working in the predominantly white entertainment industry.
It also cites similarities between the initial project and Black-ish such as the primary character’s wife being named “Rainbow” and being called “Bow” often by others, and more seemingly commonalities of plot and intent.
Both works conclude with the protagonist overcoming challenges with race relations, adapting to his professional environment, and coming to terms with his ‘blackish-ness’.
In the suit, Barber wants compensation, along with full accounting, creator and writer credit and compensation, plus a piece of
all derivative, ancillary and merchandising rights and interests.
Barris has yet to comment or release a statement.