Friday, August 24, 2007

Lawsuit claims "Hannah Montana" idea stolen

Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:37PM EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles comedy writer-producer who penned Fox's "In Living Color" and created Nickelodeon's "Roundhouse" has sued the Walt Disney Co., claiming it stole the idea for its hit Disney Channel show, "Hannah Montana," from him.

The lawsuit said that in late 2001, Morris Taylor "Buddy" Sheffield pitched Disney Channel executives the idea for a children's TV show about a junior high school boy named Roland Dillard who leads a secret life as a pop star named Rock Ryder.

A Disney Channel spokeswoman said on Friday the cable network had no comment on the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Sheffield said Disney executives appeared interested in the concept after an initial meeting and asked him to write several sample scenes. A week after he turned in the scenes, Disney Channel passed on the project, the lawsuit said. It was filed on Thursday in Los Angeles,

Disney Channel launched "Hannah Montana," a series about a teenage girl who leads a secret life as a pop star, in 2006. It has become the channel's top-rated series, and the No. 2 rated U.S. TV series with kids ages 6 to 14, and has spawned two best-selling soundtracks.

The lawsuit claims Disney could owe Sheffield and his production company "millions of dollars" in lost profits and damages and he demands compensation for his legal fees.