Tuesday May 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- CBS is hoping a legal warning shot shatters rival network ABC's plans for its reality show "The Glass House."

Attorneys for CBS have sent ABC executives a letter warning that "The Glass House" is "strikingly" similar to CBS' show "Big Brother." The network notes that ABC may be benefiting from the fact that 18 former "Big Brother" staffers and executives are now working on the planned ABC show.

"Glass House" would feature contestants who are constantly filmed and eliminated from a home they share, and viewers will be able to influence many of their actions, according to a description of the series. "Big Brother," which has aired on CBS since 2000, has similar features.

Attorneys for CBS noted that the former "Big Brother" staffers now working on the show, including "Glass House" executive producer Kenny Rosen, all signed nondisclosure agreements and are likely violating them by working on the new series.

"In the strongest possible terms, we must admonish ABC and anyone involved in the development or production of ‘Glass House' that they will be acting at their own peril if they continue to proceed in this manner," says the letter that was sent to ABC and later obtained by The Associated Press and other news outlets.

ABC had no comment on CBS' allegations.

The letter states that CBS, which owns the U.S. licenses and copyrights to "Big Brother," could sue ABC and block "Glass House" from being broadcast. Previous cases involving copycat allegations in reality television have been difficult to win in court, but judges assess their merits after reviewing both products.

"With the striking similarities to ‘Big Brother' and their concerted effort to recruit a large number of former staff from the show, we don't see how ABC can produce this new series without infringing on our rights," CBS wrote in a statement.

ABC settled a case on confidential terms last year with the Tokyo Broadcasting System over allegations that ABC's hit show "Wipeout" was a copycat of several Japanese game shows such as "Takeshi's Castle," "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge" and "Ninja Warrior."

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LOS ANGELES -- "Neighborhood Watch" will now be known as just "The Watch."

Fox has said that the name of the film starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn as suburban neighborhood watch volunteers who uncover an extraterrestrial plot was changed in light of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida.

"As the subject matter of this alien invasion comedy bears no relation whatsoever to the recent tragic events in Florida, the studio altered the title to avoid any accidental or unintended misimpression that it might," the studio said in a statement.

Fox previously pulled early promotional materials for the movie because of the Trayvon Martin case.

"The Watch" is set for release July 27.

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NEW YORK -- ABC News and Univision are teaming up to start an English-language news network aimed at Latinos.

The networks said that a website and mobile content will be available this summer. A television network is expected next year. The venture doesn't have a name yet.

Univision News President Isaac Lee says the network will not only inform Latino Americans, but let viewers of all nationalities know what issues are important to people within this growing demographic.

Disney and ABC Television Group chairwoman Anne Sweeney say the venture is an important step in broadening ABC's reach.