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Safekeeping: Protecting Your TV Show Idea

Ivan Parron

©2014. Published in Landslide, Vol. 6, No. 5, May/June 2014, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

In August 2012, NBC debuted a late summer series called Stars Earn Stripes to quite a bit of fanfare and a truly impressive amount of cross-platform promotion. It was a reality competition show, produced by Survivor creator Mark Burnett, that featured a cast of celebrities including Dean Cain, Laila Ali, and Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, pitted against each other alongside real military service members. The celebrities were to engage in actual military training exercises with the goal of coming out on top and winning money for a charity each had chosen to represent. Aside from some controversy that Stars Earn Stripes met upon its debut from a group of Nobel Peace laureates who decried it as making light of the true horrors of war, it is hard to imagine anyone much remembers the show; despite a big push from the NBC Universal properties, it was canceled after only six episodes.

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