Fox Wins Round Two of Reality Boxing Bout

A judge gave the second round to Twentieth Century Fox in a legal fight over competing boxing reality shows.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- A judge gave the second round to Twentieth Century Fox in a legal fight over competing boxing reality shows.

L.A. County Superior Court Judge Lisa Hart Cole on Aug. 27 denied a request from producers of NBC's "The Contender" for a preliminary injunction against "The Next Great Champ," a Fox reality series produced by boxer Oscar De La Hoya and Endemol USA.

DreamWorks SKG and reality mogul Mark Burnett, makers of "The Contender," were trying to force Fox to edit allegedly unlawful bouts out of "The Next Great Champ" before it airs Sept. 10.

Cole ruled that the effort would violate Fox's First Amendment rights. Her action followed a similar ruling Aug. 18 by Judge Linda Lefkowitz, who declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the show.

DreamWorks can still pursue its case against Fox, which NBC accuses of ripping off its idea.

"From day one, Endemol has focused its attention on producing a high-quality television show," said David Goldberg, president of Endemol USA. "Despite a variety of distractions, our commitment to that end has never wavered. Now the viewers will decide if we've done our job."

Attorney Steven Marenberg, representing DreamWorks, referred questions about the case to corporate spokesman Andy Spahn, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

DreamWorks and Burnett allege that "The Next Great Champ" was produced on a "rushed and frenzied basis" to beat NBC's series to the air. Although "The Contender" was announced first, it's not airing until November.

In "The Next Great Champ," aspiring boxers compete for a contract with De La Hoya's company and a World Boxing Organization title fight. In "The Contender," the prize is $1 million and a shot at a boxing career.

Meanwhile, according to reports, an independent producer is claiming that the idea for "The Next Great Champ" was stolen from her. Leigh Burton filed suit against the show's producers in Los Angeles Superior Court Sept. 1, alleging breach of contract, breach of confidence and unfair competition.


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