Battling TV networks are in a legal reality show

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Battling TV networks are in a legal reality show

ABC urged a federal judge on Monday to reject efforts by rival network CBS to block next week’s premiere of the new reality series ``The Glass House,’’ citing differences between the new show and the longtime competition show ``Big Brother.’’

CBS has asked the judge to block the June 18 premiere because it copies key elements of ``Big Brother’’ and the new show employs dozens of its former staffers. U.S. District Judge Gary Feess agreed last week that the case should be expedited, although no hearing date has been set.

ABC’s filing states the network spent $16 million promoting ``Glass House,’’ which would air after ``The Bachelorette’’ reality show. Delaying the show’s premiere could cost 150 people their jobs, ABC argued.

The network’s attorneys also claim most of what CBS argues are trade secrets are not unique concepts, but rather standard elements of reality television, such as competition, betrayal, voting and a diverse cast. The show differs from ``Big Brother,’’ ABC’s lawyers argue, because many of the contestants’ decisions, and who remains in the house, are made by the audience. The least popular housemates will lead teams in a competition each week, with the losing leader facing elimination.

``You cannot win The Glass House if you cannot win over the most important player of all - the viewers,’’ the filing states.

CBS alleges the dozens of former ``Big Brother’’ staffers and producers now working with ABC may have violated non-disclosure agreements. Kenny Rosen, the top producer of ``Glass House,’’ has acknowledged he deleted e-mails that may have been needed in the case after learning a lawsuit was planned, attorneys for CBS wrote in a court filing last week.

ABC claims many of those staffers also worked with Rosen on the show ``Hell’s Kitchen’’ and that such overlap on reality series is common.

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