TBS host Conan O'Brien could see the inside of a federal courtroom after a judge on Friday opened the way for a lawsuit alleging the late-night comedian stole jokes posted on Twitter by a comedy writer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Robert “Alex” Kaseberg, a veteran of Hollywood comedy monologues, claims that Mr. O'Brien’s “Conan” writing staff lifted five jokes from his Mr. Kaseberg’s Twitter feed between December 2014 and June 2015, THR reported Monday.
Attorneys for Mr. O'Brien sought to dismiss the case on summary judgment, but U.S. District Court Judge Janis Lynn Sammartino declined to toss the suit out of court, finding merit in three out of Mr. Kaseberg’s five alleged instances of copyright infringement.
Mr. Kaseberg initially brought his complaint to the court’s attention in July 2015, months after he says he tried to resolve the matter amicably with producers for the “Conan” program, only to be met with insult added to injury.
“To be told by anyone you’re a failure as a comedy writer hurts. To be told you’re a crazy failure by the head writer of one of your comedy idols is much worse. It is devastating,” he wrote in a Feb. 19, 2015 blog post.
As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in July of that year, shortly after news broke of the lawsuit, fans of Mr. O'Brien quickly jumped to his defense, mocking Mr. Kaseberg’s allegations and suggesting he was eager for publicity and quick cash.
Now it may well be Mr. Kaseberg who has the last laugh, if only with just an out-of-court settlement.
Unless the parties reach one in the next few months, the next major proceeding should come in August with a pretrial motion, THR reported, adding that in the event the dispute goes to trial, it could give the public a window into the inner workings of how late-night comedy shows like “Conan” are written, with big names in comedy such as Patton Oswald compelled to take the stand.
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