LOS ANGELES -- A court fight over competing reality boxing
shows is getting a third contender.
NBC claims Fox stole its idea for "The Contender" and rushed
to put together "The Next Great Champ," an upcoming series
produced by boxer Oscar De La Hoya and Endemol USA. "The
Contender" producers DreamWorks SKG and reality mogul Mark Burnett
have waged a no-holds-barred legal battle that included calls for
Fox to knock some footage out of its show, set to begin Sept. 7.
Now a 33-year-old independent producer has tossed her own
lawsuit into the ring.
Leigh Ann Burton claims De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions
actually got the concept for a reality boxing show from her, after
she registered a so-called treatment with the Writers Guild of
America on Sept. 22, 2003. The series would be called "The House
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Superior Court, Burton said she
detailed the show for De La Hoya and his company's chief executive,
Richard Schaefer, in an Oct. 7 meeting. The suit says both agreed
she would be compensated if they proceeded with the show.
She finalized a production agreement in November, according to
the suit. Burton claims negotiations over the show stalled in
January and she found out two months later that Fox planned to air
"The Next Great Champ."
Stephen Espinoza, attorney for Golden Boy Promotions, said in a
statement that he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on
"However, the public comments from Ms. Burton and her counsel
concerning what occurred between the parties are simply not true,"
Espinoza said. "Golden Boy Promotions and Mr. Schaefer have done
nothing wrong, and Ms. Burton's claims to the contrary are utterly
Burton's one-page treatment, filed along with her lawsuit,
describes a one-hour program hosted by a pro boxer and celebrity
host in which eight unknown boxers compete at a training compound
equipped with cameras.
In "The Next Great Champ," aspiring boxers compete for a
contract with De La Hoya's company and a World Boxing Organization
title fight. In "The Contender," the prize is $1 million and a
shot at a boxing career.