'NCIS' creator Don Bellisario sues CBS over 'NCIS: Los Angeles'
The creator of "NCIS" thinks he's being ripped off by CBS. Don Bellisario, who was fired in 2007 from his job as executive producer of "NCIS," filed a suit in California Superior Court in Los Angeles arguing that the network illegally cut him out of participating creatively and financially in "NCIS: Los Angeles," a spin-off of the military crime drama that premiered in 2009.
In his suit, Bellisario says his deal with CBS, which makes and airs both "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles" gave him "first opportunity" rights to be involved in "spin-offs, sequels or remakes." CBS, the suit claimed, is "contractually obliged to compensate Bellisario for 'NCIS: Los Angeles,' including a percentage of its profits as well as a certain fixed compensation."
While no dollar figure is attached to the suit, the "NCIS" shows have been described by CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves as a billion-dollar franchise. Last year, reruns of "NCIS: Los Angeles" were sold to USA Network for more than $2 million per episode.
Anticipating that CBS may argue that "NCIS: Los Angeles" only shares part of a title with "NCIS" and it is not technically a spinoff, Bellisario's suit argues that "the concept of a 'spin-off' has extended beyond the model involving use of a fictional person to encompass other central aspects of a show that can be similarly leveraged into a new show."
Read the full story here: LA Times/Company Town, April 28, 2011
Photo: "NCIS: Los Angeles" actors Chris O'Donnell, left, and LL Cool J make a guest appearance in an episode of "NCIS." Credit: Cliff Lipson / CBS