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Music documentary idea stolen

Netflix’s new music documentary series, ReMastered, is involved in a lawsuit from two producers who said their idea was stolen by the series creators.

TJ Barrack and his business partner Marc Joubert are suing Jeff and Michael Zimbalist for allegedly copying their concept for Remastered, a documentary series that will explore seminal events in the lives of artists such as Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Jam Master Jay and Sam Cooke.

According to court documents (shown in main image above), Barrack and Joubert first came up with the idea of a documentary series in 2011 that would tell interesting stories from the music world. They were introduced to Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, who are brothers. Barrack and Joubert were fans of the Zimbalists’ work directing the 30 for 30 episode “The Two Escobars”. 30 for 30 is an ESPN series that explored stories in sports, and was the inspiration for Barrack and Joubert’s idea for the music documentary.

They were hoping for the Zimbalists to direct an episode of the ReMastered series, which would deal with the shooting of reggae artist Bob Marley. Barrack and Joubert think the shooting may have been a political assassination by the CIA, and the Zimbalists expressed their interest in the political intrigue.

Shortly after, Barrack and Joubert said they sent the Zimbalists a PowerPoint deck that had an overview of the series, and a synopsis for each episode. The Zimbalists agreed to direct the Bob Marley episode. In 2012, Barrack and Joubert, and the Zimbalists pitched to HBO and Showtime, but the TV networks were not interested in the series. Barrack and Joubert decided to shift their focus to other projects.

About five years later in September 2017 they had a rude shock when they found out that their idea had found a home at Netflix with the Zimbalists credited as the creators. The pilot episode is named “Who Shot the Sheriff”, and it is about Bob Marley’s shooting, the exact same material that Barrack and Joubert claimed to have pitched to the Zimbalists.

Barrack and Joubert, along with their company Adaptive Studios, are suing the Zimbalists and All Rise Films for breach of contract and breach of confidence. They're asking the court for a declaration detailing their rights under their implied contract, and are seeking compensation.

At PitchMark we often cover the struggling artist who gets their work ripped off by a bigger corporation in a pitch. But one of the artists who is being stolen from is not a minnow. TJ Barrack is the son of Thomas Barrack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital and a confidante of Donald Trump. Thomas Barrack is a real estate titan and has many political links in the Middle East. Barrack probably has the resources to put up a legal battle, probably more than other artists who have seen their ideas copied by big companies.

A jury will soon decide whether the Zimbalists did steal Barrack and Joubert’s idea. After all, the latter said that they did not at any point abandon ReMastered or consent to the use of their property by the Zimbalists or any other party.

In the meantime, Netflix is making available this month the first episode of the ReMastered documentary, Who Shot The Sheriff?




Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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