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“The Rock” Dwayne Johnson and his production company, 7 Bucks Entertainment, were named in a lawsuit filed in California federal court on Thursday as it relates to the HBO series “Ballers.”
Two writers, Everette Silas and Sherri Littleton, claim that defendants HBO, Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Stephen Levinson lifted the idea for the NFL-inspired drama from their “Off Season” show idea.
According to Deadline.com, the writers pitched “Off Season” to Hollywood individuals who said they would pass along the idea to Johnson, Wahlberg, and Levinson in January 2009. Silas and Littleton say in the lawsuit that they were under the impression that the trio saw the materials in the pitch. A deal fell through, though.
Then, HBO partnered with Johnson, Wahlberg, and Levinson to create “Ballers” five years later. Silas and Littleton claim in their lawsuit that Ballers “borrows heavily from the Materials and that certain aesthetic elements, including, without limitation, physical appearance of the characters and their vehicles, and plots, scenes, as well as storylines are virtually identical to the Materials that the Defendants had access to.”
The suit continues: “Ballers and Off Season, are, in many respects, virtually identical and strikingly similar. These substantially similar elements, coupled with the Defendants’ direct access to the Materials, leaves little doubt that numerous elements of Ballers were copied from Off Season.”
The writers are seeking unspecified damage and a jury trial. Johnson, Wahlberg, and Levinson did not comment on the suit. An HBO spokesperson issued a statement reading: “We are confident the case has no merit.”
HBO picked up Ballers for a second season after the show surpassed expectations for Season 1 earlier this year.