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HOME > Rock Star > Rock Star: INXS

Mark Burnett sued over 'Rock Star' reality TV show concept


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/08/2007 

A writer and producer is reportedly claiming that reality television producer Mark Burnett was part of an alleged conspiracy to steal her idea for Rock Star: INXS, which aired on CBS in the summer of 2005.

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Sharlene Sullivan filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court suing Burnett and CBS for more than $2 million, the website TMZ.com reported on Wednesday. 

According to the lawsuit, the writer/producer alleges that in March 2003 she registered a show synopsis called Rock Star with the Writers Guild of America, in which "lead vocalists for rock bands would compete and would be judged by well known musicians/rock stars."

In the lawsuit, Sullivan alleges that later in 2003 she was put into contact with director Michael Simon to determine if he would be interested in developing Rock Star with her.  After several meetings, Sullivan said Simon "no longer had interest" in Rock Star and "encouraged [her] to abandon the project" as well as to "write and unrelated [synopsis] regarding transvestites. "

In December 2003, Simon would direct the seventh season finale of Burnett's Survivor reality competition series, and later directed the eighth season's finale as well.  She stated Simon also worked with Burnett on NBC's The Apprentice.

"Clearly, Simon and Burnett had a working relationship during and before Sullivan submitted [the synopsis for Rock Star] to Simon," reads the lawsuit.  "In or about the summer of 2004, Burnett announced his plans for a television show to rival American Idol. The name of said reality television show was Rock Star: INXS... [which] used and exploited Sullivan's [synopsis] and all of her key ideas within."

However INXS claimed that they came up with the idea for the show in 1999 -- even before reality television became an international sensation -- and Burnett admitted right from the beginning that INXS brought the idea to him in April 2004.  "I am a long-time fan of INXS and feel very fortunate that INXS approached us with this idea and have entrusted us with their future," he said at the time.

Still, Sullivan said in the lawsuit that Burnett knew that Rock Star: INXS, as well as its second season Rock Star: Supernova, "utilized" her key ideas. 

(Photo credit CBS)


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