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New Girl showrunner’s credibility is questioned in revived lawsuit

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Fox’s New Girl hasn’t been about a newcomer or just one girl in a while, but its increasingly dubious title isn’t the basis for a lawsuit against its creator and producers. According to Deadline, plaintiffs Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold are attempting to revive their once-dismissed suit, which alleges that their script for something called Square One ultimately led to the ubiquity of Zooey Deschanel and the “adorkable” portmanteau.


The plaintiffs first filed suit in January 2014; their complaint was based on a theory that their “widely circulated” Square One script passed through hands at William Morris Endeavor and somehow wound up on New Girl executive producer Elizabeth Meriwether’s desk. Counts and Gold have insisted that their story, which was about a woman who moved in with three men, was such a singular idea that there’s really no way it didn’t end up becoming the hit show. As such, they’re suing Fox, WME, Meriwether, and Peter Chernin, another executive producer for New Girl.

The suit was dismissed last October, despite the fact that the defense failed to cite Three Men And A Baby or its sequel to counter the plaintiffs’ claim of how original their idea was (Deschanel could totally play Ted Danson’s daughter). But Counts and Gold are pleading their case again by calling out Meriwether personally for prior bad acts. They claim that Meriwether was forced to share the writing credits (and blame) for 2011’s No Strings Attached with Mike Samonek as the result of a Writers Guild Of America arbitration.

The WGA wouldn’t comment on the case or even confirm that it ever heard the matter in arbitration, but Counts and Gold are convinced that this is their smoking gun. Their legal strategy here is to attack Meriwether’s credibility because she might have failed to give proper credit in the past. Like all important entertainment matters, their argument hinges upon an Ashton Kutcher-led movie.

The defendants struck back against the amended complaint—in their response, they deny that Meriwether ever saw the plaintiffs’ script and insist that she alone was responsible for the hilarious premise of attractive people of different genders living together while dealing with brief novelty. They describe the lawsuit as being “concocted…out of whole cloth,” and are otherwise sticking to a “liar, liar, pants on fire” defense. Everybody’s due back in court on September 21, when someone will hopefully call Kutcher or his No Strings Attached co-star Natalie Portman to the stand.