Steven Seagal reality TV show in legal dispute

NEW YORK Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:38pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new reality television show about the life of actor and martial arts expert Steven Seagal became the subject of a federal lawsuit filed on Monday in a dispute over who thought up the idea for the show.

A&E Television Networks sued California-based Genuine Entertainment claiming that Genuine has wrongly asserted the idea for the reality show was stolen from Genuine by A&E after a series of meetings between the two parties.

Seagal rose to fame in the 1990s as a star of action movies such as "Under Siege," but in recent years has failed to find much success at box offices.

The show, called "Steven Seagal: Lawman" due to air later this year on cable channel A&E, focuses on the 57-year-old actor's real life experiences including duties as a deputy sheriff in Louisiana, the suit said.

During several meetings in 2007, a representative for Genuine Entertainment had proposed ideas for a reality show involving Seagal. But those ideas were different from "Steven Seagal: Lawman," A&E claims in its lawsuit.

The cable TV network said it later learned that Genuine's claim that Seagal had agreed to work only in a show for Genuine was untrue, and so A&E pursued the actor directly.

The suit said Genuine wrote to A&E in August seeking money and threatened to file legal claims for breach of contract.

A&E seeks a court declaration that it cannot be held liable for making the show because the show is separate and exclusive from the ideas Genuine brought to A&E.

A spokesperson for Genuine could not be immediately reached for comment.

A&E Television Networks is jointly owned by privately held The Hearst Company, Walt Disney Co. and General Electric Co's NBC Universal.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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