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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
American Big Brother sued
US big brother
The US version of Big Brother has had mediocre ratings
The US version of Big Brother has been hit by legal action by the holder of the film rights to the novel which gave the show its name.

Producers of the massively successful 'reality TV' programme, which takes its name from the classic George Orwell novel 1984, are charged with copyright infringement.

Marvin Rosenblum, who holds the movie and TV rights to the novel, has accused producers CBS of illegally borrowing from the book.

The novel, first published in 1949, depicts a futuristic, totalitarian society watched over by an all-powerful state and secret police, "Big Brother".

'Orwell Productions'

Rosenblum says the producers intentionally created a programme that viewers will think is connected to or approved by the owners of the copyright to the novel.

George Orwell
George Orwell: Invented 'Big Brother' in his last novel, 1984
Arguing that they are trading on the connection to the novel, he pointed out that one of the show's producers named their company Orwell Productions.

The fly-on-the-wall TV show, which has been a hit across Europe, involves real people confined in a house fitted with cameras in every room.

Under 24-hour surveillance, participants' activities are broadcast on television and the internet, with viewers voting to remove one resident each week.

The US version of the show, which has had to compete with another CBS reality show Survivor, has failed to capture a large audience.

Stirring it up

Now CBS are hoping to boost ratings by introducing a new participant to stir up some conflict among the six "tame" contestants remaining.

On Wednesday's show producers will offer one of the six remaining contestants a bribe to quit so the series can introduce a more interesting replacement.

Someone will be offered a briefcase containing $10,000 (6,850) but on leaving the house will forgo the $500,000 (342,000) prize for the final winner.

But they will only have two minutes to decide whether to take the money and run.

Big Brother contestant DarrenBig Brother
Stories from inside TV's most famous house
See also:

12 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Reality TV overload
24 Aug 00 | Entertainment
US TV's million-dollar Survivor
04 Sep 00 | Talking Point
Reality TV: What's the attraction?
06 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Big Brother hits the US
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