TV Article

'Idol' Threat

Producer sues over ''Idol,'' says show was his idea. He claims he thought up the talent contest back in 1994 and pitched it to Fremantle

Simon Cowell | SOUR NOTE As a producer, Cowell is named in the latest ''Idol'' suit
Image credit: Simon Cowell: A. Rapoport
SOUR NOTE As a producer, Cowell is named in the latest ''Idol'' suit

You won't find out this week if it's Ruben or Clay -- not if Harry T. Keane Jr. has his way. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Irving, Texas-based record producer is suing the makers of ''American Idol,'' claiming he came up with the idea as far back as 1994, and seeking an injunction to keep the show off the air unless he gets paid what he says is his fair share. In a cease-and-desist letter he sent the plaintiffs before filing suit, he suggested $300 million as an appropriate settlement.

''American Idol'' fans may think the show is a spinoff of the 2001 British series ''Pop Idol,'' but that's not so, Keane claimed. He told the Chronicle he came up with the name of the show, the set design, the twice-a-week schedule, the panel of four celebrity judges, and the viewer-voting element. He said he pitched the idea to various U.S. and European companies, including FremantleMedia, one of ''Idol'''s producers. Keane filed suit Wednesday against FremantleMedia, producer Simon Fuller, judge/producer Simon Cowell, 19TV, and Fox.

Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said of Keane's lawsuit, ''The claim he is making is ridiculous, and the lawsuit is ridiculous.'' Ironically, a website that appears to belong to Keane lists ''American Idol'' as his favorite TV show. Well, no wonder.

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Originally posted May 19, 2003