Legal Media Top Stories

Fuller sues Fox and Fremantle over X-Factor USA

By | Published on Thursday 21 July 2011

Simon Fuller

‘X-Factor USA’ isn’t even on TV yet, and already it’s being sued, which is quite an achievement.

‘American Idol’ supremo Simon Fuller is suing Fremantle Media and Fox, respectively the producer and broadcaster of the new ‘X’ franchise, over their failure to credit him as the new show’s Executive Producer, and their failure to pay him a fee for fulfilling that role.

In their defence, Fremantle and Fox have pointed out that Fuller isn’t the show’s Executive Producer, and isn’t involved in the new programme in any way, and therefore they don’t see why they should credit him or pay him any money. Which seems pretty reasonable. But, says Fuller, his lack of any actual executive producing is simply not relevant.

This all stems from the previous legal battle between Fuller and ‘X’ boss Simon Cowell, the former arguing that the latter stole his ‘Idol’ format, added some boot camp nonsense, and called it ‘X-Factor’, in doing so causing the premature demise of the UK version of ‘Pop Idol’, ironically the show that had made BMG A&R man Cowell a TV star in the first place.

That dispute was settled in 2005 in an out of court settlement. A key part of that deal was an arrangement to ensure ‘X-Factor’ wouldn’t launch in the US for five years, ensuring that Fuller’s lucrative ‘American Idol’ show could continue, with Cowell as a judge, without a major new copy-cat competitor. The deal also, according to Fuller, included a promise that if and when ‘X’ did eventually come to the USA he’d get a production credit and fee, despite not being actively involved in the show.

Fuller’s new lawsuit adds that Fox, which will broadcast both ‘American Idol’ and ‘X-Factor USA’, was actively involved in the 2005 settlement. But, he claims, now both Fox and Fremantle, which will also work on both ‘Idol’ and ‘X’, are refusing to give him his credit or pay his fee. A spokesman for pop impresario Fuller told reporters: “Mr Fuller has prudently attempted to settle this matter privately but the other parties have refused to honour the original contract leaving him no other choice but to pursue legal action”.

Fox and Fremantle are currently sticking with their ‘but he’s not involved in the show’ line, saying in a statement: “[Fuller has] not been hired, nor performed any duties, on the US version of the ‘X-Factor’. His suit seeks payment and credit as an executive producer despite his neither having been approved by the required parties, nor hired, as such. The lawsuit was without merit and we expect to prevail”.

Significantly, Fuller’s lawsuit does not target Cowell or his Syco company directly, despite that meaning the former 19 Management chief is now suing the broadcaster and producer of his own ‘Idol’ show, though, of course, Fuller’s direct involvement in the ‘Idol’ franchise is much less these days since he stopped working for his old company 19, now part of CKX Inc, and set up his new business XIX Entertainment.