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Stern Sues ABC Over TV Show

March 14, 2003|Jeff Leeds | Times Staff Writer

Are you litigious?

Shock jock Howard Stern on Thursday sued the ABC television network, alleging that the new series "Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People" is a blatant rip-off of a bit aired on his radio program.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accused the Walt Disney Co. network and other defendants of copying the "unique aspects" of a Stern radio segment in which members of his crew and other judges evaluate the bodies of in-studio contestants. Among them: the use of "unabashedly blunt and harsh" criticism, and the use of "a laser pointer to highlight areas of the contestant's body."

Stern's lawsuit said ABC made little secret of its effort to mimic his radio bit, "The Evaluators." The network hired Scott Einziger, a former executive producer of Stern's E channel show, and Jackie Martling, Stern's former head writer, to work on "Are You Hot?" The suit seeks more than $10 million in damages.

The lawsuit said Stern warned the network that the series would be a "misappropriation," but that ABC disregarded him.

Before the ABC show debuted, Stern was in talks to develop a TV series based on his radio segment, according to the suit. His show would be broadcast on either a network or a pay-cable channel "without the censorship and editing required of a non-pay cable station such as E Entertainment Television."

But when ABC aired "Are You Hot?," talks for a Stern TV show collapsed, the lawsuit said.

An ABC spokesman could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

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