B-CAT fight over kitty comedy

Local cablecasters to sue Animal Planet for stealing feline reality format

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It’s the purr-fect crime.

The creator of BCAT’s “Cat Haus” is threatening to sue Animal Planet for allegedly ripping off his two-year-old low-budget show in its own prime-time version.

Animal Planet’s “Meow Mix House,” is a three-minute spot that aired for the first time last Friday at 9 pm.

Like “Cat Haus,” “Meow Mix House” is a reality-show spoof featuring live cats with “personalities” voiced by humans. At the end of each episode, one cat gets voted off the show.

Could two producers have independently come up with the same genius idea?

Steve de Seve, the BCAT producer, thinks not. “Their show was clearly stolen from our show,” he said.

“They even have fake mini-commercials, which is one of our trademarks,” he added. “The cats have all been given personalities, [including] a streetwise cat and a Texas cat. My show has these personalities. Our show is tongue and cheek. Their show is tongue and cheek.”

Those aren’t the only similarities. In both shows, “Meow” is the greeting of choice. And both shows have a certain raunchy sense of humor.

Then again, there are some differences, too.

Animal Planet’s version has a host, a voiceover, and a laugh track, while BCAT’s does not.

De Seve threatened to sue Animal Planet if it went ahead and broadcast its show. The network did not cower.

“They said they were going to air it anyway and risk a lawsuit,” said de Seve.

“We’re looking for the right [lawyer], and we’re suing them for at least $3 million” — an amount de Seve estimates his show would have been worth before “Meow Mix House” destroyed its commercial value.

“Who will buy my show once it’s already been done commercially?” said de Seve, who is also the producer of “Brooklyn vs. Bush,” another popular BCAT show.

The producers of “Meow Mix” said they were stunned at de Seve’s charges — mostly because they never heard of de Seve.

“Neither ‘Meow Mix,’ [sponsor] Del Monte Foods nor [public relations firm] Grand Central Marketing have previously heard of or seen the program referenced by Mr. de Seve,” said Keith Fernbach, a spokesman for the show. “The claims asserted by him have no merit.”


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