Back in 2004, ghost hunting was something that seemed almost laughable. The paranormal was an area that most did not take seriously and most would never admit to be involved with. Then, a show about two average plumbers who went on paranormal investigations premiered on the SyFy (then Sci Fi) network and all of that changed. The show, Ghost Hunters, quickly became one of the network’s highest rated programs and spawned several spinoffs. Now, the megahit and NBCUniveral are being sued by individuals who claim that Ghost Hunters was their idea and they’ve never been credited for it.
Deadline reports that the five-year legal battle, launched by producer and parapsychologist, Larry Moritz, and publicist, Daena Smoller, filed a petition with the Los Angeles Supreme Court yesterday, claiming that Ghost Hunters is based on a concept that they originally pitched to the NBC network between 1996-2003. The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2006, reiterates Moritz and Smoller’s claims and also names star and producer, Jason Hawes, as one of the violators.
According to court documents, the plaintiffs registered their concepts and ideas for series format with the Writers Guild on January 27, 2000. Moritz and Smoller also re-registered on April 14, 2006, two years after Ghost Hunters premiered on the network. The show was originally submitted under the copyright, Ghost Expeditions: Haunted. The pair claim that after eight seasons on the air, Ghost Hunters and NBCUniversal has used their concepts and ideas, making millions of dollars, all without crediting or compensating them.
Moritz and Smoller are seeking an injunction, ordering NBC and SyFy to cease any programs or products related to their concepts. The pair are also seeking restitution, general damages, lost profits, and more. When Deadline contacted Syfy for comment, the network responded, “The claims are without merit and we expect to prevail in the litigation.” Of course they would say that!
This is very interesting to me because as a fan of the show, I’ve seen interviews of Hawes and Grant Wilson discussing how the show came to be. The two explained that they were approached to do this show by the network and had originally turned it down but then agreed to do it when asked again. I’m curious to find more information about this case, to see if the claims are true, and if Hawes and Wilson had any part in it.
I’m very interested to see how this is all going to pan out and how it will affect Ghost Hunters and the TAPS team. My guess is that NBC will probably win and/or the case will get settled out of court. I’m not sure if Moritz and Smoller have a lot of evidence to support their claims, which is why I need to read up more of the case.
One thing is for sure: Ghost Hunters definitely isn’t the show that it originally was. Now, it seems as though it is just a giant commercial and is completely scripted. Sigh.