August 10, 2005 07:31 PM by Joe Blackmon
Simon Cowell, ABC Television Network, and FreemantleMedia, North America are being sued over the reality TV show “The Million Dollar Idea.” Reality TV Magazine first reported on the new reality TV show back on July 13, 2005. ABC had announced that they ordered nine episodes of the show that was going under the working title of “The Million Dollar Idea.”
The show was described as “a nationwide search for America’s greatest entrepreneur with the best business idea or new product.” The winner of the show was to receive “$1,000,000 worth of business support, including cash, top-notch entrepreneurial counsel and physical resources.” Simon Cowell of American Idol fame and British entrepreneur Peter Jones were credited with having conceived the show.
Now, a lawsuit has been filed that alleges the name and the concept for the show were stolen. The lawsuit was filed by Jean Golden and Todd Walker, the creators/host of a syndicated television show called “Million Dollar Idea.”
According to a press release, “In 2001, Golden and Walker – childhood friends who eventually became business partners in their own public relations/marketing firm in Minneapolis, MN – teamed up and spent the next two years developing what became the "Million Dollar Idea(R)." By 2002, they pitched and shot a pilot of "Million Dollar Idea" for KSTC TV (the sister station to ABC affiliate KSTP) in Minneapolis/St. Paul. By 2003, the show was airing on KSTC, in the nation’s 14th largest market (Minneapolis, MN)."
"Three seasons and over 30 episodes later, the show was recently nationally syndicated to over 125 television stations. In the process, it has drawn the attention of national media including The New York Times, Time Magazine, NBC’s The Today Show, Late Show with David Letterman, and Entrepreneur Magazine.”
Also according to the press release, “In early 2004, Walker pitched Andrea Wong, executive vice president for Alternative Programming, Specials and Late Night at ABC Network. Wong was enthused by the idea and Walker/Golden followed up by sending Wong a pitch package which included selected media coverage of Million Dollar Idea, taped episodes of the show, a business plan and treatment for a national show. Also included was a confidentiality agreement. Golden and Walker also provided copies of their pitch materials to CAA, the same agency named in a recent ABC press release as having "packaged" the imitation "Million Dollar Idea.”"
According to Pierce O’ Donnell, a lawyer representing Golden and Walker, the damages from the lawsuit are estimated to be well into the tens of millions of dollars. “From stem to stern, each and every detail of Simon Cowell and ABC’s mock ‘Million Dollar Idea’ is a patent rip-off of Todd and Jean’s four-year labor of love," said attorney Pierce O’Donnell. "Cowell, and ABC, conspired to destroy the very essence that the show ‘Million Dollar Idea’ is here to promote – the ability of the little guy with a big dream to take an idea and bring it to fruition."
"It is incredibly ironic that our show, the premise of which is to promote, protect and reward small-town American ingenuity, was itself the victim of corporate theft and greed," said Jean Golden, co-creator of Million Dollar Idea. "What has happened to us is every inventor/entrepreneur’s worst nightmare: having your idea stolen. The arrogance of Simon Cowell and ABC is beyond comprehension. Can you imagine stealing an idea and not even bothering to change the name of it?"
"We are outraged that Simon Cowell, and ABC Network think that they are above the law," said Todd Walker. "We were taken aback to see our brand so brazenly stolen by corporate giants."
For more information about Million Dollar Idea, visit www.milliondollaridea.tv.