Originally created 08/19/04

Scuffle over competing boxing shows lands in court



LOS ANGELES -- A slugfest between Fox TV and the producers of a competing NBC boxing series has landed in court.

DreamWorks SKG and reality mogul Mark Burnett, producers of NBC's upcoming "The Contender," asked a judge to force Fox to edit allegedly unlawful bouts out of "The Next Great Champ" before it airs.

Fox should be barred from using "film of any boxing match that wasn't legally promoted," DreamWorks said in a statement, citing a California Athletic Commission investigation of the reality series.

"It would be terribly damaging to the sport, to our show 'The Contender' and to all the participants if anyone were to profit from or gain an unfair advantage by breaking the law," DreamWorks said.

The filing against "The Next Great Champ," produced by boxer Oscar De La Hoya and Endemol USA, was taken under submission Tuesday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz in Santa Monica.

It alleges that "The Next Great Champ" was produced on a "rushed and frenzied basis" to beat NBC's series to the air and violated state boxing regulations.

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.

Fox is getting out in front with its show, which is scheduled for a Sept. 10 debut. The NBC series is to begin sometime in November.

"We believe these claims are without merit," Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said Tuesday. "This is an effort to stifle competition by seeking an inappropriate prior restraint of a broadcast."

NBC and Fox already have sparred outside court over the competing reality TV concepts.

Last month, NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker accused Fox of hijacking the boxing idea after NBC announced it planned a series with DreamWorks' founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Burnett and Sylvester Stallone of "Rocky" fame.

Fox TV entertainment chief Gail Berman said claims that Fox is stealing reality show concepts are "outrageous" and a business ploy.