A producer sued the creator of the ABC series “Black-ish” Friday, alleging the writer stole his idea for the series without giving him credit or compensation.

Bryan Barber. Photo via collider.com/
Bryan Barber. Photo via collider.com/
Bryan Barber filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Kenya Barris, Wilmore Films and two production companies. The suit alleges breach of contract and fraud and seeks more than $1 million in damages.

A representative for Barris could not be immediately reached.

The suit states that Barber and Barris met while attending Clark Atlanta University in the mid-1990s. They developed a friendship and later agreed to write for VH-1 Films a script based on Barber’s idea about the black experience as seen through the lens of a black man working in a mostly white entertainment industry, the suit states.

The idea was based on Barber’s own life experiences, which he shared with Barris in confidence in expectation they would develop the project in partnership, according to his complaint.

VH-1 later dropped the project, but Barber did not authorize Barris to pursue his idea elsewhere, the suit states. However, between 2006 and 2014 Barris in fact wrote and developed a pilot for “Black-ish” without telling the plaintiff and it aired on ABC in September 2014, the suit states.

“The series from its inception has been a highly acclaimed and successful television series,” the suit states.

The 42-year-old Barris “concealed from (Barber) the fact that Barris had hijacked … the development of the pilot and the series,” the suit states.

Barber’s idea and “Black-ish” are similar in plot, character, mood and place and dialogue, according to the lawsuit.

Barber, 45, has directed many music videos for popular artists.

— City News Service

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