'Aussies stole my reality TV show': Andy Newton-Lee taking legal action over ABC network's Next Stop Hollywood
A HULL man who runs a business in Los Angeles is taking legal action against a major Australian TV channel which he claims stole his idea.
Andy Newton-Lee owns Next Stop LAX, which helps actors and those starting out in the entertainment industry to apply for visas to work in the States.
He pitched the idea of a reality TV show based on his business to ABC in Australia more than a year ago and, although the company turned him down, it has now aired a similar show named Next Stop Hollywood.
Mr Newton-Lee, 31, who used to star in Hollyoaks, said: "We shot three pilots under my production company Next Stop Media and it has been floating around the networks for about four years.
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"We took it to ABC in Australia, BBC Three, E! Entertainment and they all told me things that needed changing.
"Taking on board their ideas, I spent thousands of pounds reworking it and, at one point, we were up against Pineapple Dance Studios and Louie Spence.
"The networks wanted us to have a bigger central character and knew Louie was going to be popular.
"I first heard about Next Stop Hollywood when Delta Goodrem's manager emailed me and pointed it out.
"I was having a beer and I nearly fell off my chair."
The new series, which aired in Australia yesterday, follows six Aussie actors who quickly figure out making it in Hollywood is no walk in the park.
They audition during pilot season in Los Angeles with a camera crew in tow and Mr Newton-Lee says the concept is very much the same.
He said: "This sort of thing does happen in LA and it's very frustrating.
"Next Stop LAX would have been my big break as an executive producer and it's annoying that networks kept telling me 'it's been done before'.
"You can't copyright an idea like this but I have spoken to my lawyer and they are sending a legal letter to the channel to see what happens.
"We could agree on a settlement or it could go nowhere. I would rather try.
"As a small production company it could be very difficult to go up against ABC but I want to do something about this."
Mr Newton-Lee's business Next Stop LAX also has offices in London, New York and Sydney. He has been building his client list for the past seven years.
The company turns over $800,000 – about £500,000 – a year.
He said: "I'm not too sure where to go from here but I could change the pilot and pitch it to UK networks again after the Australian show.
"It's just annoying when so much money has been spent and man hours have been put into it only for someone else to cut you out of the equation."