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September 5, 2015

'30 Rock' and 5 More Shows Accused of Stealing From Other Shows

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 12th 2010 4:25PM
Sarah Silverman'30 Rock' is being accused of stealing a joke from another comedy show. The joke aired during last week's episode in the scene where Jack told Liz about "vertical integration," using as an example a corn chip maker also making diarrhea medicine.

According to Gawker, 'The Sarah Silverman Program' used a very similar joke back in October of 2008. Here are the two videos. You decide.

Unlike Gawker, which ran the story with the subtle headline "30 Rock Rips A Joke Straight From The Sarah Silverman Program," I'm not going to make an accusation like that. While the jokes have similar topics, they're handled in different ways.

It's less about stealing than there just being a limited amount of topics that people make jokes about. And as someone says in the Gawker comments, a writer for '30 Rock' used to work on 'The Sarah Silverman Program,' so maybe the joke was just recycled, which shows do all the time.

This isn't the only show that has been accused of taking stuff though. Here are five more (plus '30 Rock' lands on the list again):

Carnival of Souls/Heroes

'Heroes.' Since its first season, the NBC drama was charged with taking ideas and plots from other sources. It was accused by two artists of copying the Isaac character from a short story and paintings they had created. 'Heroes' was even accused of stealing the "Save the cheerleader, save the world" line. Then, in the last season of the show, the artist who did the 'Carnival of Souls' graphic novels sued the show, claiming it took his ideas for their plot about the evil leader of the carnival. Comic Book Resources has an in-depth comparison of the two.

The Muppet Show'30 Rock.' Besides the above accusation, some are even saying that the show is nothing more than a rip-off of 'The Muppet Show.'

The fact that Liz Lemon loves the Muppets and there have actually been Muppets on the show in some surreal scenes (usually when we see a character running by a camera for a few seconds) only gives more evidence to believers that the show is just a copy of that show.

I have no opinion on this one, if only because this accusation makes me shrug and say "so what?" even if it was true. But Brian Lynch seems to think that Liz is Kermit, Jenna is Miss Piggy, Tracy is Gonzo, and Kenneth is Scooter.

He loses me when it comes to Jack Donaghy though. Besides, you could probably make the case that a half dozen or so TV shows set in the world of television could be compared to other shows set in the world of television.

'Saturday Night Live.' As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the NBC variety show was accused of stealing the "tiny hats" idea from 'Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job.' Tim Heidecker was surprised by how similar the ideas were, but said that comics and writers of a certain age group or mentality are often inspired or influenced by each other. This is probably a nice way of saying "Hey, we did this years ago!"

'Shaq Vs.' Last year TV producer Todd Gallagher sued the William Morris Endeavor agency and Media Rights Capital, saying that the idea for the ABC reality competition show 'Shaq Vs.' was stolen from his awesomely-titled book 'Andy Roddick Beat Me With a Frying Pan.' Gallagher said that he actually approached two networks about the show and they wanted to buy it, but his agents nixed the deal. Then he saw ads on ABC for Shaq's show and filed the lawsuit.

Even though Shaq says the idea was his, the lawsuit was settled this past summer, with Gallagher getting an undisclosed amount of money.

'Modern Family.' Yes, someone has even claimed that the critically-acclaimed ABC comedy was his idea. He filed a lawsuit this past summer. Radar Online has the details and also has a PDF of the lawsuit.

Royal Pains'Royal Pains.'You probably didn't know that someone had sued the makers of this show, and you'll probably be surprised to hear who filed the suit. It was Anakin Skywalker! Well, Hayden Christensen. He and his brother say that USA Network stole their idea for a show called 'Housecall,' about a doctor who makes housecalls to rich clients.

This one could have some legs, since the brothers actually contacted USA Network about the show back in 2005.

Any other shows that have been accused of stealing ideas? Let us know in the comments.

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During its first season 30 Rock ripped off a lot of jokes from the show Newsradio. And they weren't similar they were just ripped off.

October 22 2010 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's so much media these days that they have to keep manufacturing controversy out of nothing just to keep the pages filled up.

When a character in Sondheim and Lapine's "Sunday in the Park with George" complains that he can't find anything new to say, he gets the response, "Said by you, though?".

Most jokes throughout history have been variations on a limited number of formulas. The trick is in finding a new way of telling them. The only thing that's truly unforgivable is stealing a joke from someone verbatim.

October 13 2010 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just last week on Raising Hope the mother character could not get the child proofed toilet open and peed in the sink just like Amy Pohler in the film Baby Mama.

October 12 2010 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After watching the two "tiny hat" clips, the only similarity I can find is that both are about tiny hats. That's not plagiarism. That's two skits about tiny hats.

October 12 2010 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Comedic Success is 90% inspiration and 90% perspiration... and 50% plagiarism. It has ALWAYS been true.

October 12 2010 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Recycled vs. theft
Absolutely. About a million years ago, the sitcom "that's my Momma" had a cautionary tale about the guys sending a pilot idea to a network only to see a similar show appear. They went to see the producer (as if) and he patiently ran through a couple dozen examples of recycling of which their idea was just another, even if they did not know it.
Recently, the Disney popular show about wizards recycled two ideas in one movie-length version, the first of which was if their parents never met, the kids could not have been produced and they started disappearing a little at a time. Just like in Back to The Future, where the children start dropping out of a family photo and Michael J. Fox starts becoming invisible, part by part. As for the tiny hats ripoff, even World Wide Wrestling used that device years ago (before Tim and Eric) to poke fun at an unaware doofus who thought he was with the big boys when they wore real cowboy hats and he had on a tiny one. Funny is funny.

October 12 2010 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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