There’s some dispute about where the idea for Christina Aguilera’s film Burlesque came from.
Nicci Gilbert of Brownstone has leveled a lawsuit against Screen Gems. She claims that the studio ripped off the idea for Burlesque from a screenplay she wrote in 2007 titled Soul Kittens Cabaret. Supposedly, Nicci’s movie would have starred Fantasia.
While both films have the same setting, Screen Gems doesn’t think Nicci’s claims hold any real weight.
“Beyond the fact that both Burlesque and the Screenplay involve a burlesque cabaret venue as part of the story, the two stories are entirely dissimilar,” a rep for the studio said in a statement. For example, Screen Gems points out that Soul Kittens Cabaret uses religion and addiction as themes, whereas Burlesque does not. And Screen Gems claims that unlike Soul Kittens Cabaret, there’s no violence in Burlesque.
Nicci begs to differ, though. Just based on the trailer, she came up with 17 striking similarities between the movie and the screenplay.
Admittedly, the theme of a small town girl coming to the big city isn’t exactly an original premise. It’s interesting to note, however, that both Burlesque and Soul Kittens Cabaret have gender-bending show hosts as part of the cast of characters.
Aside from that, both films seem to feature the cabaret’s star/mother hen taking the new starlet under her wing and pushing her to become the best performer she can possibly be.
Nicci even went so far as to compare lines from Soul Kittens Cabaret and Burlesque’s teaser. The singer has attempted to compare notes between her screenplay and the write-up for Burlesque, but Screen Gems refuses to honor her request for a copy of their script.
Screen Gems really isn’t sweating the suit or the controversy. The studio is pretty sure the case will be dismissed because “the fact that two stories have similarities in their basic plot and structure is not actionable.”
And, even if this dispute does get drawn out, Screen Gems stated that it’s ready for a lengthy and costly court battle—emphasis on costly. Nicci isn’t backing down, though.
“I am ready for phase 2 no matter how long and/or expensive it becomes,” the singer-writer wrote in response to Screen Gems’ statement.
For now, though, it looks like Nicci will have to wait to see the movie before she can continue drawing similarities between Soul Kittens Cabaret and Burlesque.
Burlesque, which is set to hit theaters on November 24, is directed by Steven Antin. Coincidently, his sister is Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin.
– Sonya Eskridge
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