Spinner v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

215 Cal. App. 4th 172 (2013)

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Spinner v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

California Court of Appeal
215 Cal. App. 4th 172 (2013)

Facts

In 1977, Anthony Spinner (plaintiff), a successful television writer and producer, developed a pilot entitled L.O.S.T. for American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC) (defendant). Spinner’s script was about several members of the U.S. Olympic team and their team doctor surviving a plane crash in the Himalayas. A military officer and a spoiled rich girl with a drug problem were also among the characters. The story involved the group traveling through a mountain tunnel and emerging in a prehistoric world. ABC ultimately passed on the project. In 2003, ABC executive Lloyd Braun had an idea about melding the reality show Survivor with the film Cast Away. Braun pitched the idea to other executives, and they engaged a writer who drafted a script about mysterious survivors of a plane crash on a seemingly deserted tropical island. The characters in that script formed the basis for those eventually featured in the show LOST, including a pregnant woman, a calm and collected older man, a doctor, an addict, and a military officer. J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof became involved in 2004 and further developed the idea and script. None of the individuals involved with LOST knew Spinner, read his script, or had any involvement with the earlier project. A search of ABC’s archives yielded a copy of a later treatment Spinner worked on in which the story took place in the future in outer space, but no copy of the 1977 script was located. In 2009, Spinner sued ABC, alleging breach of an implied-in-fact contract created when ABC solicited the 1977 script. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of ABC, and Spinner appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Flier, J.)

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