NEW YORK – Howard Stern claims a top ABC exec admitted to him that the producers of Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People ripped him off.
"When the head of ABC -- who used to be my lawyer -- finally saw the show . . . he goes: 'Oh my God, it's an exact replica of your show,'" Stern said yesterday, referring to Lloyd Braun, the chairman of ABC Entertainment.
"Lloyd said to me, 'You've been stolen from,'" Stern told his radio listeners.
"He agreed with me. He feels bad for me," the shock jock said in a lengthy rant.
A spokesman for Braun in Los Angeles declined comment.
Stern is suing ABC and the show's producers for $10 million, claiming the reality show that rates contestants as "Hot" or "Not" is a carbon copy of his radio bit, Evaluators, that also airs on Stern's E! channel simulcast.
Stern said he sold a racier version of Evaluators to the Showtime cable network, but claims the pay-cable channel passed after Are You Hot premiered.
"They called me up and said, 'Forget it -- we don't want to look like we're stealing,'" Stern said. "They did the show badly, so my version with Showtime was dropped."
In explaining how the ABC show was done "badly," Stern may have inadvertently given defense lawyers ammunition for arguing that there are substantial differences between the two projects.
"The point of [my] show was it was a bunch of ugly guys all sitting there evaluating people who had no right to be evaluated," said Stern.
"You don't put Lorenzo Lamas on there -- he's pretty. Plus, [my] show's about humiliation."
Sidekick Robin Quivers didn't appear to help Stern's stolen-idea case by answering, "Yeah, they changed it completely. Now it's the Miss America pageant with a laser beam."
Stern's Evaluators involves a panel of three quirky male judges assessing the physical attributes of arguably-endowed women.
Are You Hot? features a glamorous three-person panel, including Lamas, that evaluates the degree of sexiness of unquestionably-attractive men and women.