Writer Christine Davis accused actress Quinta Brunson and ABC of plagiarizing Emmy-nominated series
Writer, performer, and artist Christine Davis has accused Quinta Brunson, the creator of the popular television show "Abbott Elementary," and the network behind it, ABC, of copyright violations.
She has alleged that the show is a copy of her own script "This School Year."
Davis wrote the script for her series about filming a television comedy at school in 2018, and registered the copyright for it in March 2020, a year before the premiere of the Brunson project.
Both stories revolve around an under-funded public school that invites a documentary crew to film its various hardships, and an optimistic teacher trying to push for reform.
Davis showed her script to producers Cherisse Parks and Shavon Sullivan Wright, who do not have any connection to “Abbott Elementary.” They told her that the script was sent to Hulu which, like ABC, is mostly owned by Disney. A few months later, ABC began filming on “Abbott”, with Brunson as both star and series creator.
According to court documents, the stolen script that Davis is claiming takes place in a New York City public school with a very similar, "look and feel of the inner-city school, the mockumentary style, unique plot synopsis, set design, and unique characters."
The lawsuit also says that many of the characters are “nearly identical”, and that the plot lines in the first few episodes are similar as well.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that specific plot lines of the first episodes are similar and that ABC "without permission, license, authority, or consent, knowingly and illegally used works to create the Abbott Elementary television show."
She is asking for "damages of an unspecified amount," and demands "Brunson and ABC turn over all profits they made from the show."
Only a few days before Davis' accusations, “Abbott Elementary” earned an impressive total of seven Primetime Emmy nominations for their debut season, three of which creator and lead actress Brunson scored, including Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Comedy Series, and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
The wins made history, with Brunson becoming the youngest Black woman ever to receive three nominations under comedy.
PitchMark previously covered a story in which Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi was accused of stealing the concept of his successful movie “A Hero” from his former student Azadeh Masihzadeh. She had filed a case against Farhadi in a Tehran court for plagiarizing the concept from her documentary “All Winners All Losers,” which was made for a workshop led by Farhadi in 2014.
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