New Lawsuit Takes Swing At Champ

Fox won its legal showdown with NBC over boxing reality show The Next Great Champ, on track to premiere Sept. 7, but now an independent producer is taking another swing at the show, alleging its producers stole the idea from her.

Leigh Ann Burton, a 33-year-old television producer, filed a complaint in civil court in Los Angeles Monday against boxer Oscar de la Hoya and his Golden Boy Productions, claiming breach of contract and unfair competition.

Burton claims she developed the concept for a reality show about unknown boxers who compete for a chance to fight in a Las Vegas bout and registered the show treatment with the Writers Guild of America back in Sept. 2003.

According to the suit, Burton says she pitched the idea to Golden Boy Productions CEO Richard Schaefer a month later and he and de la Hoya expressed interest. But by year-end, she says, negotiations stalled and, in March 2004, Burton learned of Golden Boy’s deal with Endemol USA and Fox Broadcasting for a boxing reality show. According to the complaint, that show, Next Great Champ, “used Ms. Burton’s ideas without her knowledge and consent, and without compensating her.” 

Burton’s lawyers are entering familiar waters. She is represented by Santa Monica, Calif.-based lawyers Bruce A. Broillet and Scott H. Carr. Another Broillet client, Gary Binkow, is pursuing a similar lawsuit against Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne over their MTV reality show, The Osbournes.