Jerry Seinfeld is no stranger to lawsuits. Back in 1998, he was sued for $100 million by his childhood friend, Michael Costanza, for slander, libel and unauthorized use of his name, likeness and persona after he accused Seinfeld of basing the character played by Jason Alexander, George Costanza, upon him. In 2007, he was sued again by a team of Swedish animation students who had pitched an idea about a bee movie to Dreamworks in 2000.
More recently, Seinfeld was sued for allegedly stealing the idea for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. This latest lawsuit comes from Christian Charles, who has collaborated with Seinfeld for nearly 25 years. In fact, Charles directed Seinfeld’s American Express commercials. He also directed the 2002 documentary Comedian, featuring Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Gary Shandling.
Charles claims that, around the time he was directing Comedian, he pitched an idea to Seinfeld for a show called ’67 Bug, with the alternative title Two Stupid Guys in a Stupid Car Driving to a Stupid Town. Seinfeld originally rejected the idea, but Charles claims that in 2011, he and Seinfeld began developing the same show and that Charles eventually directed a pilot for a show called Comedians in Cars Going for Coffee. Initially, according to Charles claims, Seinfeld abandoned the project, but then later warmed up to the idea. Locations were scouted, and guests were discussed. Charles even directed the pilot episode. However, according to Charles, the deal fell apart over money in 2012. Charles claims that he was the creator of the show, while Seinfeld claims that he “worked for hire” on a show that Seinfeld created.
The project went ahead without Charles, who eventually brought suit against Seinfeld after Netflix purchased the rights to the series for $100 million.