- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Suit: ‘Break’ a copycat

For four years in the 1960s, two brothers were on the run, fleeing authorities after a prison break at a juvenile facility. Robert Hughes, wrongfully incarcerated at 16, turned to older brother Donald, who helped him escape.

Sound familiar? Like Fox’s “Prison Break”?

The Hughes brothers think so.

In a federal lawsuit, they say their agent sent Fox a manuscript in 2001 chronicling their experiences but the network wasn’t interested. So they were surprised when, last fall, Fox began airing “Prison Break.”

“It’s a classic case of the rich trampling on the poor,” Donald Hughes, 63, told Associated Press.

Their copyright infringement case, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., seeks unspecified damages and other costs from Fox and the show’s executive producer and creator, Paul Scheuring.

The brothers, still close and living in neighboring apartments in central Missouri, live on disability and Social Security.

“If we sold the manuscript at this point to a movie studio or network, they’d think we were copying ‘Prison Break,’ ” Robert Hughes, 59, said.

Fox Broadcasting Co. spokesman Scott Grogin said the company had not seen the lawsuit and has no comment. Chris Alexander, spokesman for 20th Century Fox TV and Mr. Scheuring, says it’s their policy not to comment on pending litigation.

In May 1964, 16-year-old Robert Hughes was wrongfully held in juvenile detention after his mentally ill mother, who suffered from paranoid delusions, told authorities he had threatened her with an ice pick during a family argument. She later recanted, but he was ordered to serve time until he was 21.

Donald Hughes, then 20, planned an escape and sprang his younger brother two months later. For the next four years, the brothers were fugitives, working when they could and dodging authorities throughout the nation.

The two eventually were exonerated in 1968 after the Kansas City Star published a story detailing their ordeal.

“Prison Break,” now in its second season, is set in contemporary time, but the Hughes brothers say they have noted more than 30 places, names or events that are strikingly similar to those in their manuscript.

O.C.’ goes high tech

Anxious to find out how the denizens of Newport Beach respond to the tragic death of Marissa Cooper?

Starting tonight, Fox will make the fourth-season premiere of “The O.C.” available on Fox Interactive Media’s Myspace.com and the Fox Television Station Group’s MyFoxLocal Web sites in 24 owned-and-operated markets, Zap2it.com reports. That’s one week ahead of its regularly scheduled network premiere.

The show’s second episode also will be available through the same streams in advance of its airdate. Both episodes will then be put up on Fox on Demand on a free, ad-supported basis, and will be accessible for nearly a week following their television broadcasts, Zap2it.com says.

Seasonal cheer

Bravo viewers seemed to weather “Christmas With the Browns,” a spinoff of the network’s gross-out reality hit starring Bobby Brown and his now estranged wife, Whitney Houston.

So spending the holidays with “the world’s first supermodel,” Janice Dickinson, shouldn’t be that difficult, right?

Fans of Miss Dickinson’s Oxygen series “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency” will find out soon.

Oxygen renewed the show for an eight-episode second season and has given the go-ahead for “Christmas With the Dickinsons,” a holiday special featuring the sourpuss catwalk queen — formerly a judge on “America’s Next Top Model” — and her kin. Production began this week.

The eight-episode order is down from season one’s 10 installments, notes Zap2it.com. But viewers will see more of Miss Dickinson and her over-the-top diva antics because Oxygen has decided to expand the show from 30 minutes to an hour each week.

“Christmas With the Dickinsons” is scheduled to premiere in December. Regular episodes — which Oxygen promises will include the further growing pains of the agency and Miss Dickinson confronting some disgruntled models from last season — will begin airing in January.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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