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LOS ANGELES (CN) – Producers stole the concept of the VH1 series “Hollywood Exes” from a woman who pitched a reality show about the lives of ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of Hollywood celebrities, based on her own life as the mother of one of Eddie Murphy’s children, the woman claims in court.
Tamara Johnson sued Vernon Lynch and Lynch-Dyson Entertainment in Superior Court. They are the only defendants.
Johnson claims they stole her idea for the “reality” TV show, which she called “The Hollywood Ex Club (aka Baby Mama).”
Johnson says that in November 2008 she wrote the treatment, which “outlines a reality show that follows the friendships of these women, their attempts to start their lives and careers over and to step out of the shadows of their famous exes.”
The treatment outlined the show’s theme, tone and plot, and listed the potential cast, which included herself as Eddie Murphy’s ex-girlfriend, Andrea Kelly as R. Kelly’s ex-wife, and Angelique McQueen as Oscar De La Hoya’s ex-girlfriend. Johnson also pitched it to Daphne Wayans, ex-wife of Keenen Ivory Wayans, according to the complaint.
Johnson claims she entered into non-disclosure/non-compete agreements with Kelly, McQueen and Wayans, and registered the treatment with the Writer’s Guild of America in March 2009. She then began “shopping the project,” and pitched it to various production companies and networks, including VH1 and Lynch, according to the lawsuit.
She discussed the project with Lynch during numerous telephone conferences, during which it was implied that she would be properly compensated and they would be partners/co-produces if Lynch used her idea, Johnson claims.
Eventually, Lynch indicated that he was not interested in developing the series because he had other projects, Johnson says.
But in April 2011, Johnson claims, she met with Tori Hart, Kevin Hart’s ex-wife, who informed her that Lynch already had pitched the idea to her.
Johnson claims she contacted Lynch, who “intentionally lulled plaintiff into a false sense of security” by assuring her that she would be compensated and be given credit as executive producer of the series if it ever came to fruition.
“Subsequently, in or about early 2012, plaintiff learned that VH1 was producing a show entitled ‘Hollywood Exes,'” the lawsuit states.
The first episode of the show aired on June 27, 2012 on VH1, followed by 11 subsequent episodes. The show was listed as produced by Lynch-Dyson Entertainment and Shed Media and executive produced by Lynch. Included in the cast were Kelly and Eddie Murphy’s ex-wife, Nicole Murphy.
“The pilot for the Series was strikingly similar to the Treatment that plaintiff had disclosed to Lynch and Lynch-Dyson Entertainment via Lynch,” and included “nearly every creative element of the treatment as well as many of plaintiff’s ideas discussed during the telephonic conferences with Lynch,” Johnson says in the complaint.
Johnson says she asked Lynch for credits and payment for the series, but was rebuffed. She claims that Lynch-Dyson Entertainment took “at least three conflicting, and equally flawed, positions with respect to who is allegedly responsible for the series.”
For example, Johnson claims, in 2012, Jeff Dyson said in an interview that he and Lynch created the series when “God gave us a clear vision.”
In April this year, Lynch’s litigation counsel stated that the series had been created during a lunch meeting with Lynch, Dyson and their agent. Then in May, Dyson told Johnson that he had come up with a different series, but the idea evolved during discussions with Lynch, Johnson says in the complaint.
In fact, Johnson claims, her discussions with Lynch “enabled Lynch-Dyson Entertainment to develop and exploit the Series for its own pecuniary gain.”
“To date, plaintiff has not received any compensation or credit for her creation of the series,” according to the complaint.
Johnson seeks punitive damages of more than $1 million for breach of oral contract, breach of implied contract and fraud.
The current cast of “Hollywood Exes” includes Mayte Garcia, ex-wife of Prince; Jessica Canseco, ex-wife of Jose Canseco; Sheree Fletcher, ex-wife of Will Smith; Andrea Kelly, ex-wife of R. Kelly; Nicole Murphy, ex-wife of Eddie Murphy; and Shamicka Lawrence, ex-wife of Martin Lawrence.