Judge Cooks up Copyright Win for 'Rachael Ray' ProducersSun Jan 13, 2008 @ 07:29PM PST
Posted by Matthew Heller
The alleged similarities between the pitch for a TV cooking show called "Showbiz Chefs" and the syndicated talk show hosted by celebrity chef Rachael Ray are not a recipe for a copyright infringment case, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.
The generic talk-show format is not protectable, U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins said, and any similarities between "Showbiz Chefs" and the CBS-produced "Rachael Ray" are "'scenes a faire' that naturally flow from the interview and talk-show format ... Cooking segments may individualize the talk-show structure somewhat, but they still represent the outgrowth of the generic talk show, especially when the host can, in fact, cook."
The ruling granted a motion to dismiss a suit filed by Jeffrey Zella and Ross Crystal, who pitched the idea for "Showbiz Chefs" to the Food Network in 2001. Their treatment envisioned a "a 30-minute interview/cooking show featuring celebrities cooking their favorite dishes in their own kitchens." They alleged that episodes of "Rachael Ray" featuring such celebrities as President Clinton and Oprah Winfrey violated the copyright on their treatment.
Collins also found that the "relaxed, fun mood" of the two shows was "merely another example of 'scenes a faire'" and therefore not protectable even though it may be substantially similar. "[I]ndeed, it is difficult to imagine a somber show of this nature," she said in a wry aside.
Marcia Harris and Frieda Taylor of Dreier Stein & Kahan in Santa Monica represented the plaintiffs, while Lee Brenner, Tami Kameda and Allison Rohrer of White O'Connor Curry in Century City were on the case for CBS and co-defendant King World Productions.