Nicci Gilbert has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit claiming the hit Starz series, “P-Valley,” is an unauthorized knock-off of her original musical stage play “Soul Kittens Cabaret,” which was released on DVD in 2011.
The suit, filed in the United States District Court on January 12, 2022, lists Lionsgate, Chernin Entertainment, Starz, creator Katori Hall, executive producer Liz Garcia, and co-producer Patrik-Ian-Polk as defendants.
Nicci’s suit states “P-Valley” and her copyrighted stage play are “striking and substantially similar.”
She alleges the show stole the noir look, unique ploy synopsis, set design, risqué performance venue, and unique characters from “Soul Kittens Cabaret.”
According to Starz, the hit series is based on Katori Hall’s stage play “P***y Valley.”
Katori’s play premiered at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2015.
Here’s where the water gets murky…
The lawsuit alleges entertainment attorney Leroy Bobbit pitched “Soul Kittens Cabaret” as a musical TV drama to Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer in 2014.
At that time, Feltheimer was given two copies of the script as well as a DVD of the stage play.
Despite showing great interest in the play, Nicci says she never heard from Lionsgate again.
Six years later, “P-Valley” premiered on Starz in 2020.
The critically acclaimed series, starring Brandee Evans, Elarica Johnson, Nicco Annan, Tyler Lepley, Shannon Thornton, and J. Alphonse Nicholson, was an instant hit amongst viewers and has been renewed for a second season.
“P-Valley” has also received nominations from the GLAAD Media Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, TCA Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards.
On the official website of her WIRF Media production company, Nicci Gilbert posted a video statement as to why she chose to file the lawsuit and the importance of ownership for Black, female content creators.
The video was more of a promotional piece for her foundation and production company rather than a direct statement regarding her lawsuit.
The website also included a one-hour video documenting all of the striking and substantial similarities between “P-Valley” and “Soul Kittens Cabaret”… 47 to be exact.
Here’s a quick list of a few similarities Nicci pointed out in her video:
- The use of a red vintage suitcase.
- A fight breaking out and someone being called a “fa**ot.”
- A dancer introducing herself to the owner of the club.
- A seasoned dancer helping a newbie pick out her outfit.
- A white drug dealer.
- The club having strictly enforced “rules.”
- An antagonist calling the gender fluid club owner a “freak.”
- A woman offering guidance, advice, to a wayward woman.
Yes, they are similar themes, behaviors, and aesthetics associated with a strip club that is present in both works, but I’m unsure if it will be enough to convince a jury of infringement.
Then again, I am not a judge, so I will stick to my ministry, which is serving delicious scoops of entertainment and celebrity news.
I will say that fact that the CEO of Lionsgate was in possession of the “Soul Kittens Cabaret” script and DVD is a cause for concern.
Nicci Gilbert took to Instagram with a quick word about her lawsuit:
One thing I don’t have is thin skin. My mama built me tough. I will stand up for what’s right til I turn 111yrs old and not give two fux about a BOT or a Dispatched Troll.
The only opinion I care about is the courts, but if you want the truth you know where to find it.
She also added another little tidbit in regards to the show being based on Katori Hall’s stage play:
When y’all find a copy of HER play that the show was “based on” Holla at your girl…I wanna see something! Now run tell dat.
See the original post below.
Nicci Gilbert is seeking actual and statutory damages, as well as a jury trial in the civil suit.
Source: WIRF Media