Last July (2016), we reported that Tatyana Ali filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros and Telepictures, claiming that the entertainment companies stole her idea for the daytime talk show “The Real” which debuted in 2013. The series initially received a trial run on Fox owned markets in the summer of 2013, and was later green-lit for national syndication in the fall, officially premiering the following year, 2014.
The series was developed as a talk show to appeal to younger female viewers, initially co-hosted by Adrienne Bailon, Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry.
In Ms. Ali’s suit, the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” actress claimed that she came up with the concept for the show which she described as “a unique and innovative format, which featured an eclectic group of engaging female celebrity hosts, each aged within their 20’s and 30’s … designed to pique the interest of the younger side of the mid-life/mid-career female population and featured a variety of contemporary discussion topics in a relaxed and informal setting.”
She claimed that she pitched the concept to WB in 2012, but they passed on it – at least that’s what she was told had been decided, as she said in the court document. And “The Real” would go on to premiere several months later as “a direct production” of her original idea.
The suit continued: “The five female host panel cast members [of ‘The Real’] very closely embody and mirror the personal and professional profiles of the specific and potential female celebrity hosts openly proposed in writing and in discussion by the Plaintiff [Tatyana Ali] during ‘pitch’ meetings she held with the Executives… The Defendant Corporations did not at any time, directly or indirectly, acknowledge the use of the Plaintiff’s Concept.”
The suit was asking for unspecified damages from “all rightful gains, profits, and advantages derived by the Defendants” and that a trust be set up for Tatyana Ali in which “designated percentages of the proceeds resulting from past, current and future production and airing of ‘The Real’ television program” will be deposited.
Skip ahead 7 months later to news on Friday that the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed Ms. Ali’s lawsuit, ruling that the trade secret laws on which she based her claim do not protect ideas (unlike actual trade secrets, which this wasn’t considered), and that she willingly shared her talk show idea with the parties named in her suit.
So the court has tossed Ali’s claim out the window. Whether she actually has any legal standing to continue to pursue this in some other way is something one would assume she is talking over with her lawyers.
There’s a lesson to be learned from all this by those of you who in the business; especially if you’re a newbie.
We most recently saw Tatyana Ali in TV One’s original movie, a thriller titled “Second Sight,” which premiered in April 2016. In the film, Ali plays a young teacher plagued with visions, whose gift of “prophesy” leaves her haunted by premonitions of horrific kidnappings, and takes it upon herself to search for one of her students who has gone missing.
Up next, Ali will appear in the independent feature film “The Good Nanny.”
Deadline was first to report the news of the dismissal.