Seinfeld wins ‘Comedians in Cars’ lawsuit
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Seinfeld wins ‘Comedians in Cars’ lawsuit

Court rules director of initial pilot for hit show waited too long to file ownership claim after alleging he came up with the idea

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Jerry Seinfeld attends the 'Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,' photo call at The Paley Center for Media, in Beverly Hills, California, July 17, 2019. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Jerry Seinfeld attends the 'Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,' photo call at The Paley Center for Media, in Beverly Hills, California, July 17, 2019. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Star comedian Jerry Seinfeld came away smiling from a lawsuit Monday after a court ruled that a writer who claimed to have come up with the idea for Seinfeld’s hit show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” waited too long to file a lawsuit for compensation.

Christian Charles claimed he first pitched the idea to Seinfeld in 2002 as “Two Stupid Guys in a Stupid Car,” but it was rejected at the time. Nine years later the two, who have collaborated on various projects since 1994, put together a pilot directed by Charles, which led to the “Comedians in Cars” series, first broadcast on Sony’s digital network Crackle in 2012.

The two had a falling out when Seinfeld wanted to compensate Charles for the pilot only, and on a work-for-hire basis rather than as the owner of the material, Charles claimed.

The Manhattan District Court found that Charles was aware already in 2012 that Seinfeld disputed his ownership claim but only filed a lawsuit in 2018, by which time his claim had expired under the statute of limitations.

US President Obama with Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ (screenshot: ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’)

“Today’s victory is a complete vindication,” Seinfeld’s attorney Orin Snyder said after the ruling. “Jerry created Comedians in Cars and this lawsuit was nothing but a money-grab seeking to capitalize on the success of the show. We are pleased that the court saw through the noise and dismissed the case.”

Attorney Peter Skolnik, acting for Charles, said his client was “likely to appeal” the decision, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Comedians in Cars” became available on Netflix last year. The show features guests who join Seinfeld as he drives in a vintage car to buy coffee. Among those who have appeared on the show are Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ellen DeGeneres. Former US president Barack Obama also made an appearance while he was still in office.

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