Whenever a show or movie experiences high success rates, the inevitable happens.  Someone shows up to claim that this lucrative idea was theirs all along.  Such is the case with Disney’s Hannah Montana.  This weekend, a comedy writer has filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company that, in 2001, he came up with the idea for a show but used a different show title.

Taylor “Buddy” Sheffield, a veteran comedy writer, is suing for alleged breach of contract, breach of confidence, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.  Six years ago, he pitched a show called Rock and Roland to the Walt Disney Company, about a middle school girl who has a secret alter-ego as a rock star.  Sound familiar?  On the show Hannah Montana, Miley Stewart, played by teen star Miley Cyrus, is a high school student who doubles as Hannah Montana.  Only her father and closest friends know her both identities.

According to the Associated Press, Sheffield has previously written for The Smothers Brothers, The Dolly Parton Show, and In Living Color.  He also created the Nickelodeon show Roundhouse.  A CBS affiliate reported that in the lawsuit, Sheffield states that “The series revolved around a junior high school student who appears to lead an entirely unremarkable life, but is secretly a pop/rock star and the main breadwinner for his family,” and that Hannah Montana is a “blatant copy of ‘Rock and Roland.”

Lawsuits over who rightfully came up with a television show’s concept first has been a long standing battle in Hollywood.  In 1977, one of the most famous battles erupted over the show Family.  A writer claimed producer Aaron Spelling stole the idea from him years before.  In 2005, two people filed suit against Simon Cowell, claiming he stole their idea for a television show called The Million Dollar Idea, which later became American Inventor.   Last year, Rachel Ray found herself in the middle of controversy when a man claimed he was responsible for the ideas behind Inside Dish with Rachel Ray.

– Gina Scarpa, BuddyTV Staff Writer
Source: Associated Press, Reuters
(Image courtesy of Sky.com)

Gina Scarpa

Staff Writer, BuddyTV