*There’s trouble brewing behind the scenes of ABC’s new hit drama “Quantico.”
The show about a sleeper terrorist among a class of FBI recruits may have a sleeper thief among its production staff, according to a new lawsuit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paula Paizes, Barbara Leibovitz Hellman and Jamie Hellman have sued producer Mark Gordon and his Mark Gordon Company, claiming the he ripped off the series from a documentary by Hellman and Leibovitz that his company optioned in 2002.
Hellman and Leibovitz claim they took advantage of their “longstanding and extensive” relationship with the FBI to spend 16 weeks shadowing a class of FBI recruits in 1988 and 1999 to produce the documentary “Quantico: The Making of an FBI Agent,” which aired on CNN.
Paizes, a business executive, says she worked for Gordon in 2001 and brought him the documentary, which the Mark Gordon Company optioned, and then signed an agreement in 2002 for a producer credit and profits from a Quantico movie.
Hellman and Leibovitz signed their own agreement with MGC and then provided “information which was not included in the Documentary, including all of their notes and transcripts … [that] included detailed descriptions of the training, both physical and psychological, and personal stories of the FBI trainees which were not depicted in the documentary,” they say.
Over the next year, Paizes allegedly worked with several writers to develop a feature film script based on the documentary. In February 2003, she emailed Gordon, “I keep thinking this would make a great drama series — cause it could play as it is — a character based drama set inside the FBI training academy,” she says, and Gordon replied, “I would be happy to discuss this with you when I get back [from production]. It’s a good idea.”
But a TV project never came to fruition by the end of the option in April 2003, the plaintiffs say.
Eleven years passed without another word about the project, the lawsuit claims. Then suddenly, ABC ordered “Quantico” into development in 2014 with Gordon producing.
The plaintiffs say Quantico is “clearly derived” from Hellman and Leibovitz’s documentary and Paizes’ script development. In particular, “the detailed knowledge of training techniques, lifestyle and terminology used in Quantico could only have derived from the transcripts and notes obtained by Leibovitz and Hellman during their unprecedented access to FBI recruits for the Documentary, copies of which were retained by [Gordon],” states the complaint, and “the show follows the ‘inside the wall versus outside the wall’ contrast described by Paizes” in working with a writer.
The Mark Gordon Company has yet to comment.
Speaking at the show’s TCA session in August, Gordon gave TV critics his take on what the show is ultimately about:
“Quantico” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Watch a clip below featuring co-star Aunjanue Ellis: