Everything went pretty well for HBO’s “Ballers“ in its first season. Despite basically being “Entourage With Football,” it debuted to 8.9 million viewers and, according to HBO, had the most-watched premiere of a half-hour series since 2009. It was renewed for a second season even before the first one was half-way done. With an A-List star in the center of it (Dwayne Johnson) and actual NFL uniforms and logos to lend the series credibility, it seemed as though it would be smooth sailing headed into season two.
They may have hit a very big snag, however, as writers Everette Silas and Sherri Littleton have sued HBO, star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson, executive producer Mark Wahlberg and creator and executive producer Stephen Levinson in federal court claiming that the producers stole the concept from them. They are seeking unspecified punitive, compensatory and special damages.
Silas and Littleton created a project called “Off Season,” which they claim shares many similarities with “Ballers,” including the Miami setting and off-field antics involving professional football players. They also claim that the producers had direct access to their materials because they almost made a deal with the defendants to produce their concept as a feature film starring both Wahlberg and Johnson around 2008/2009. According to the plaintiffs, they were asked to take their names off of the project and they refused, which ended the deal.
HBO has released a statement, saying “We are confident the case has no merit.”
It’s often tough to say what effect a lawsuit like this can have on an ongoing television show. Sometimes they’re thrown out, other times the two sides come to a settlement deal and in some instances it alters or ends future productions.