Bridgeport native files suit
LONG BEFORE shows like “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” were sweeping the nation, Bridgeport native Dwight McGhee had what he considered to be a great idea for a television show.
McGhee, known professionally as Charlie Kane, came up with the idea for a sports dance show titled the “International Breakerz League.”
Along with a business associate and an attorney, McGhee pitched the show’s premise to MTV executive producer Lauren Dolgen.
Dolgen later told McGhee that the network didn’t feel the show would be marketable and declined to pick up the option.
Then on Feb. 7, 2008, the first episode of Randy Jackson presents “America’s Best Dance Crew” premieres on MTV, a show that shares a multitude of similarities with McGhee’s idea.
That’s why McGhee has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Randy Jackson, MTV and other people associated with ABDC for a total of $12 million.
“I got nauseous and my skin started to crawl,” said McGhee, recalling watching the premiere of ABDC, a show he formulated and yet received no credit for. “When I left the pitch meeting, I thought it was a go.
“We had sponsors ready to absorb some of the production cost, which (Dolgen) told me her superiors would love. She got back hold of me and said they were going to pass.
“Then I saw the promo and the show’s premier and I was stunned.”
The show’s premise was to build upon the popularity of dance crews competing against one another in a judged competition. He also planned to implement the pageantry and set up of a sports league and combine the two elements.
McGhee, who currently lives in Hollywood, was residing in New York City in 2004 when he got hooked up with b-boy legend Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, the president of the Rock Steady Crew.
Colon agree to be one of the three judges for the show and through Colon’s prior working relationship with actor John Leguizamo, McGhee said Leguizamo agreed to be the host.
So in December of 2004, McGhee went to MTV to pitch his idea.
Part of his presentation, McGhee worked up a video that utilized scenes from the 1979 movie, “The Warriors,” along with McGhee’s own acting skills. He filled the role of Cyrus in the film, talking to the various crews about his idea to bring them all together.
This video can be found by going to YouTube and searching for “Kane’s video MTV.”
One of the main pieces of evidence McGhee is using in his suit is a split-screen video, with his pitch video on one side, and a promo video aired by MTV on the other.
The main difference between the two? MTV utilized actors and restaged the scene from The Warriors instead of utilizing scenes from the original film. The presentation and flow of the promo ad, even the actor’s usage of Cyrus’ “Can You Dig It” plea are used, as they were in McGhee’s promo.
But McGhee has more than a video. He explained he has a treatment with the U.S. Copyright Office from June 2004 for his idea, as well as with the local writer’s guild in Los Angeles.
McGhee said he originally discovered something wasn’t right when he was put in contact with Dolgen through her assistant about pitching another show idea.
The assistant allegedly informed McGhee that Dolgen needed to reschedule because Dolgen was in New York filming a sports dance show. His sports dance show.
“I eimailed (Dolgen) and more or less accused her of stealing my show,” McGhee said. “She told me that if I wanted to talk, that she suggested I get representation.
“I’ve gotten the impression that this isn’t the first time MTV has done this, but I don’t think she counted on me getting a lawyer.”
The tough part for McGhee to swallow, aside form having his idea allegedly stolen from him, is what doors could have opened for him had he been given credit.
Aside from professional opportunities, McGhee also is president of the Hip Hop Foundation.
“I wanted to use the IBL as a funding mechanism for the foundation,” McGhee said. “I told them that they could take the biggest piece of the pie, but I just wanted enough for my charity and the recognition because I wanted to do some things with poverty and hip-hop and try to tackle poverty in Third-World countries from a different angle.”
“The coolness that surrounds pop culture could be used to really make a difference and not just for public service announcements.”
In that respect, McGhee has walked the walk.
He’s taken classes on desalination techniques at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel.
He’s been to Manshiyat naser, a slum settlement on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt known as “Garbage City” and studied the effects that recycling would have in that area.
He’s been to China and other countries and is documenting his travels and discoveries.
He is in talks with a couple of networks about the prospects in doing what he considers a “traveling hip-hop show” to assist with poverty.
“There are a lot of less fortunate people out there and we need to redirect our efforts and find a different way to help than from what’s been going down.
“Everyone wants to adopt one child and save them. Well, what about everyone else?”
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org