For nine seasons, Jerry Seinfeld released episodes of his series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Crackle without much legal trouble, but now that the series is heading for Season 10 at Netflix, that streak is ending. Seinfeld is being sued over his streaming series by Christian Charles, who is alleging the 63-year-old comedian actually nicked the concept idea from a pitch made to Seinfeld years ago. Charles is suing Seinfeld for a "Created By" credit on the series, as well as the financial compensation that he feels he deserves for years of lost profits.
Christian Charles claimed in the lawsuit that he first pitched the basis of the Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee idea to Jerry Seinfeld back in 2002, but the sitcom icon turned him down and said he wasn't interested in bringing that show to life. Charles then alleged Seinfeld changed his mind in 2011 and finally got back in touch, asking about the unscripted concept Charles had originally pitched. The lawsuit (via TMZ) also stated that Charles helped shoot the pilot for what eventually became Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but that Seinfeld dumped him from the project when Charles attempted to secure ownership rights and compensation for the series.
Seinfeld's lawyer Orin Snyder released an official statement regarding Charles' claims and called the whole story "delusional."
The statement made by Seinfeld's lawyer might lead some to believe Christian Charles is just some creepster producer looking for a payday, but there are links between Charles and Jerry Seinfeld. Charles directed the Seinfeld-focused 2002 documentary Comedian, and he also has a producer credit on one Season 1 episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. Obviously, that's not enough to prove Charles came up with the idea for what Seinfeld's show became, but the fact that the producer was directing a feature with Seinfeld at the time he allegedly introduced the pitch is interesting, if nothing else.
As Jerry Seinfeld's lawyer Orin Snyder seems to imply in his statement though, it is timely that Christian Charles chose to raise a lawsuit right after the series started appearing on Netflix, even though Comedians in Cars has been running since 2012. Charles was almost definitely aware of the series back in its Crackle beginnings, given his producer credit in Season 1, so why not start the lawsuit then? Charles alleged that Seinfeld is now making $750,000 an episode of the Netflix series, which could result in a huge payday for Charles if the courts rule in his favor. So perhaps Seinfeld's expanded financial gain inspired the timing here.
No court date has been set for this disagreement, but Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee's previous seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix, and Season 10 is set to premiere later this year with guests such as Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Lewis. Binge now, or check out our midseason premiere guide and see what's happening with television in 2018.