Oprah Winfrey is pulling no punches in trying to get a copyright lawsuit she claims is “frivolous” tossed out of court.
The OWN boss responded to a suit from Shannan Lynette Wynn and Pastor Lester Eugene Barrie that claims her megachurch drama “Greenleaf” is actually a ripoff of their unproduced series “Justice & Glory,” which they say they pitched to OWN in 2014.
According to the court documents obtained by Deadline, Winfrey and the others named in the suit are making it clear that the idea from the show is original and that the plaintiffs are grasping at straws to make their case.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who either do not understand copyright law or who are pursuing it notwithstanding its manifest lack of merit,” the response on behalf of Winfrey, series creator Craig Wright, OWN, Lionsgate and ABC reads. “While both stories involve a church leader and his family, the similarities end there.”
As TheWrap notes, the defendants in the case claim that the southern setting of “Greenleaf” is identical to their pitch. They say both shows are centered on a powerful, African-American family with ties to a megachurch.
“The families of both shows live together in a mansion-style home sitting on a large plot of land, have private jets and live an affluent lifestyle. Their lives all center around the mega-church activities and people affiliated with the church in one aspect or another,” their initial suit claimed.
In a motion to dismiss the claims, Winfrey’s side writes that the plaintiffs are being very liberal in terms of connecting the dots between the two shows.
“Significantly, there is no character in ‘Greenleaf’ remotely similar to the protagonist in ‘Justice & Glory’ — white, atheist, U.S. Senator Deeds who seeks to destroy Bishop Barrington, while at the same time having a torrid sexual affair with the Bishop’s 22-year old daughter,” it reads.
“Similarly, there is no character in ‘Justice & Glory’ remotely similar to the protagonist in ‘Greenleaf’ — Grace Greenleaf, an African-American, single mother, in her 40’s, who returns home after 20 years and forces her family to confront the fact that her uncle is a serial child molester.”