While Greenleaf has undoubtedly been a major hit for the OWN network, a screenwriter and a pastor are now alleging the concept for the show was theirs and theirs alone.
Thursday, screenwriter Shannan Lynette Wynnand her collaborator Pastor Lester Eugene Barrie filed a lawsuit in California claiming Greenleaf is nothing more than a plagiarized repackaging of a show they pitched to the network in 2014 called Justice & Glory, according to theWrap.com
The writing team says that even though the network ultimately rejected their pitch, both shows suspiciously center around a powerful African-American family and their megachurch.
Wynn and Barrie claim they were later shocked to see their work on the small screen, and OWN even “used the same character names, and copied verbatim unique and novel story lines, themes, subplots and the overall tone of the show.”
“Hollywood has been the subject of extreme scrutiny due to revelations of what has been an undisclosed, decades-long history of abuse, sexual harassment and discrimination by those in power,” the suit reads.
“On a different front, and just as pervasive, has been the flagrant pilfering of the creative; specifically, the victimization of the hard-working, dedicated writers, authors and creators whose toil and artistic works have been stolen, misattributed and exploited by the unscrupulous and untouchable titans and high-status players of the entertainment industry. Creative theft, in Hollywood, has become a cottage industry. “
According to TMZ, Wynn’s legal documents also state that the duo, “pitched their idea to ABC previously, but were told there was no interest. Worst part is, they believe ABC was in cahoots with Oprah to rip them off.”
Greenleaf is currently credited as a creation of Lost and Six Feet Underwriter Craig Wright with Oprah Winfrey serving as executive producer. The show has over two million viewers per episode and has been one of the network’s most successful shows to date. The third season will debut this summer.
Wynn and the pastor are seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.