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Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee Also Gets Lawsuit

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Jerry Seinfeld’s hit web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” – along with former owner, Sony, and current owner, Netflix – has been hit [or rather, is being repeatedly hit] by a lawsuit from a person named Christian Charles, who alleges that not only was the basis of the idea for CiCGC his but that he has a lengthy working history with Seinfeld, he registered copyrights on a treatment and script for a pilot episode, conducted meetings and had email conversations with Seinfeld’s reps regarding the show. But, Charles claims, after working on the pilot and demanding backend compensation, Seinfeld moved forward without him.

Charles originally filed his lawsuit without a lawyer in February 2018, but has now secured a lawyer and moved forward with an amended lawsuit which is seeking an injunction against further distribution of CiCGC.

Charles claims a working relationship with Seinfeld dating back to 1994 that includes him directing a 2002 documentary titled “Comedian” which included Seinfeld among its stars. Charles alleges during that time period, he created and pitched to Seinfeld a television show treatment which he called “’67 Bug” – but with the alternative title of “Two Stupid Guys in a Stupid Car Driving to a Stupid Town” – which he says Seinfeld then rejected.

However, Charles says that Seinfeld retained his company to produce marketing materials for DreamWorks Animation’s “Bee Movie” [which starred Seinfeld], develop the jerryseinfeld.com website and create a promotional short for the launch of Seinfeld’s failed “The Marriage Ref” TV show prior to a 2011 meeting in Southampton, New York, where Seinfeld brought up the idea of a show about comedians driving in a car to a coffee place and just “chatting” – which Charles reminded Seinfeld was similar his 2002 “Two Stupid Guys…” idea and, according to the lawsuit, “Charles and Seinfeld agreed to develop further Charles’ Two Stupid Guys Treatment, with Charles developing, directing, and producing the project.”

Charles maintains that pilot episode was shot using the working title “Comedians in Cars Going for Coffee” with Seinfeld listed only as “talent” and without producer or other credited reference and refused to record necessary voiceovers on the principal shoot day. Charles presented the completed – and copyrighted – pilot episode to Seinfeld by email and Seinfeld and his reps allegedly requested Charles to continue to prepare and scout locations for five to six potential episodes featuring Alec Baldwin, Colin Quinn and other guests.

However, in 2012, when Charles – according to the lawsuit – attempted to begin negotiations with Sony [along with a request for compensation and backend involvement], Seinfeld would only agree to a directing fee as compensation. The lawsuit contends that Seinfeld refused to engage Charles in good-faith discussions thereafter and, for the remainder of 2012 through 2014, Seinfeld, Sony, Netflix and a variety of subsidiaries “continued to use without authorization Plaintiff’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and the Project for their own show also titled Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” as well claiming that the previously shot pilot episode was seventh episode of Season One.

After its run on Sony, the show was reportedly sold to Netflix for approximately $100 million.

Charles, through his copyright, is claiming sole authorship of CiCGC while Seinfeld insists he’s the creator and owner of the project.

About Alex Bean

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