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TV writer sues talent agency for stealing idea for a show

A TV writer has filed a lawsuit against his talent agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), claiming that his agents stole his idea for a show and gave it to a client with a higher profile.

John Musero, a former staff writer for Aaron Sorkin’s TV show "The Newsroom", said he developed a pilot for a show about the U.S. Attorney General’s office.

Musero says he submitted the pilot to his agents in September 2015, and also shared it with a producer who in turn shared it with the head of TV at The Mark Gordon Company. The series was optioned and developed by the Mark Gordon Company, but nothing developed beyond that.

The writer's suit alleges that in 2018, another CAA client, Sascha Penn, sold a pilot called "Main Justice" to CBS. The show was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Television and former Attorney General Eric Holder, and focused on the U.S. Attorney General’s office. The suit claims that both pilots ended with an assassination attempt on the Attorney General.

Musero's attorney Stephen Doniger claims the talent agency had a conflict of interest: instead of trying to make a modest commission off Musero's idea, CAA gave it to a bigger client to make a much bigger commission.

The suit accuses CAA of breaching its fiduciary duty to Musero.

Craig Holden, an attorney for CAA, said the agency denies the allegations. He told Variety: "Mr. Musero has not been a client for some time. CAA protected and advanced his interests when he was a client, and any suggestion that his agents acted improperly is inaccurate. We will vigorously defend the lawsuit."

"Main Justice" was not picked up by CBS for the 2018 season.

The suit also alleges that CAA failed to properly market another Musero pilot, called "Influence." Musero also claims that CAA failed to get him hired on other TV series after "The Newsroom" was cancelled.

This lawsuit comes at a time when the Writers Guild of America is in a showdown with Hollywood agents over "packaging" fees, which is the money collected by agencies for bundling talent to bring a project together. The writers claim the agents are making too much money off "packaging" deals. This has led to an ongoing lawsuit by the Writers Guild of America against the big talent agencies of Hollywood.

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Mark Laudi

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