Last week Nicci Gilbert of the former 1990s R&B group, Brownstone, filed a lawsuit, claiming copyright infringement, against Lionsgate and the STARZ network for stealing her idea and turning it into hit series, P-Valley.
In the claim Gilbert states that back in 2014, she and her attorney, Leroy Bobbit, pitched a show idea to Lionsgate executives, which was based on her 2011 stage play, Soul Kittens Cabaret, starring Fantasia Barrino. Gilbert also claims that she provided 2 scripts and a copy of the original play’s DVD to the Lionsgate CEO.
It has been reported that the lawsuit alleges that the P-Valley series is a “veritable unauthorized 2020 knock-off of Plaintiff’s ‘Soul Kittens Cabaret,’” and that the defendants “knowingly and illegally used Plaintiff’s works to create the ‘P-Valley’ television series.”
Soul Kittens Cabaret was about a gender-fluid cabaret club owner, who found themselves in dire straits and was about to lose the club if they couldn’t come up with the money to pay their debt.
Fast-forward to 2015, and playwright Katori Hall premieres her play, Pussy Valley, which is about a gender-fluid Mississippi strip club owner who is facing foreclosure on their business and is working overtime trying to find a way to keep it.
Gilbert claims that after she pitched her idea to Lionsgate, they were all in agreement that it was a hot idea. But, Nicci says that she waited and waited, but never received any further communication from the Lionsgate team.
Fast-forward again to 2020 and P-Valley, produced by Lionsgate, premieres on the STARZ network. The show was an instant success. As a matter of fact, P-Valley was such a success, that it was picked up by the network for a second season before the first season had ended.
Gilbert is currently seeking actual and statutory damages, including a jury trial in the civil lawsuit.
Lionsgate and STARZ refused to comment on the accusations and the lawsuit, according to sources.