NEW YORK – CBS yesterday sued rival network ABC, claiming its forthcoming celebrity-reality series is nothing but a Survivor ripoff.
CBS wants a Manhattan federal court to slap ABC with an injunction preventing it from airing a new series called I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here.
ABC was planning to broadcast 15 consecutive episodes of Celebrity during the crucial February ratings period, according to the suit.
In similar fashion to the wildly popular CBS show, the contestants in Celebrity are made to survive on rice and water and to overcome physical and mental challenges for the promise of a big cash promise, the suit said.
But instead of the contestants voting out their rivals, TV viewers will have the power to toss out the losers, like they did in American Idol.
"Celebrity is based on a successful British version that recently wrapped up its run after screening episodes filmed in the Australian Outback -- near the site used in the second season of Survivor," CBS claims.
The legal action comes after rocker Sir Bob Geldof -- who owns the worldwide rights to Survivor -- launched legal action in September against a British TV network for screening Celebrity.
CBS is seeking damages -- but the prime reason for the legal action is to try and prevent ABC from airing the show during the peak ratings period.
The suit also names the English producer of Celebrity, Grenada, and its American affiliate, Granada Entertainment USA.
ABC spokesman Julie Hoover declined to comment yesterday, saying the company had not seen the court papers filed by CBS.
When Geldorf launched his action, Grenada said that it did not believe Celebrity infringed the copyright of Survivor in any way.