'Mixed-ish' Creators Sued by Actress who Claims she Created the Show's Concept
LOS ANGELES - Actress Hayley Marie Norman is reportedly suing ABC, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kenya Barris and others claiming the “Black-ish” spinoff “Mixed-ish” was based upon a show had been pitching, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Norman claims that in October 2017 she signed a deal with Big Breakfast to write, executive produce and star in the series. That company is associated with Artists First, a production and management company that counts Ross and Barris among its clients. She said both Ross and her manager Brian Dobbins were involved in developing the series she was pitching and claims Dobbins pitched it to Barris but claimed that he wasn't interested.
The series is described as "a 30-minute sitcom, employing flashbacks, that follows the journey of a mixed-race female protagonist as she grapples with her biracial identity while living in the suburbs surrounded by both sides of her African American and Caucasian families." It was pitched in late 2018 to Showtime, Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon and Starz, but they all passed.
In her complaint, Norman said that In January 2019, Ross advised that they revisit the series in a few months after rethinking the pitch, but the following month she read that ABC was in development on a Black-ish prequel centered on Ross' character Rainbow Johnson.
By then Black-ish had just been renewed for a sixth season and Freeform had already ordered the spinoff ordered “Grown-ish” to series. The original series had focused on Bow Johnson (based loosely on Barris' real wife) was biracial in an episode featuring her parents that first aired in March 2015, which was two years before Norman signed her deal with Big Breakfast and almost three before she claimed Ross became involved.
Norman said “Mixed-ish” based upon her series which she conceived based on her own background and registered as “Mixed” with the Writers Guild of America in 2016.
"The premise is identical, its portrayal is identical, its setting is identical, and its tone is identical," wrote attorney Michael Plonsker in the complaint. "Moreover, literally everyone involved in the 'creative' and 'production' aspect of 'Mixed-ish' was either directly or indirectly involved with Norman and the development of Norman’s Series — from Big Breakfast and Ross to Artists First and Dobbins, to Barris who ostensibly passed on Norman’s Series after being presented with it, and to ABC, which knowingly proceeded with airing a series it knew was the result of a theft and rip off perpetrated by the above-mentioned parties."
Norman alleged breach of contract, breach of confidence, intentional misrepresentation and intentional interference with contract and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and restitution of the money the defendants made in connection with the series.