“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is a popular show about comedians cruising around in cars like classic Corvettes or Lamborghinis, but not everyone is happy for its success. Another man, Christian Charles, claims he originally pitched Jerry Seinfeld the show idea. That claim turned into a lawsuit which was recently dismissed by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan. Charles’ undoing was that he waited past the statute of limitations to file in court.
Charles and Seinfeld have a history together, so he’s not just some random person who contacted the comedian and allegedly pitched the concept. He directed the 2002 documentary “Comedian,” which starred Seinfeld. Part of the documentary involved filming the comedian driving around with a friend. That’s when Charles claims he pitched the idea for the show.
It was in 2011 that “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” began development. Charles was slated to direct, and he filled that role for the pilot, but a dispute over the details of his involvement resulted in a professional split.
We all know the story from there: people love watching Jerry Seinfeld pick up other comedians in different cars, many of them classics, and taking them out for coffee and other hijinks. There’s really no action in the episodes, and much like the comedian’s self-titled sitcom from the 90s, there’s no real plot. While it started off on Crackle, the show eventually was picked up by Netflix and has won multiple awards.
Seinfeld’s attorneys noted that for his work on the pilot, Charles was paid “107,734.41 in 2012. The judge ruled that the clock started ticking for Charles to file suit back in 2012, which was when Seinfeld denied the other man had ownership claims for the concept. The statute of limitations is three years, and Charles didn’t file until 2018, making him three years late on the uptake.
Attorneys representing Seinfeld told the press the suit was nothing more than a “money grab.” There’s no telling had it been successful what impact, if any, Charles would have had on the production of the current show. Ultimately this means “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” will continue cruising around in interesting vehicles.
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