’90s Singer Files Lawsuit Against ‘P-Valley’ For Copyright Infringement

P-Valley is probably the most unsuspected hit of 2020. The Starz series was created by Katori Hall. It’s based on her 2015 play, P—y Valley. The show follows employees who work at The Pynk, a strip club in Chucalissa, Mississippi. But the show is now under fire for being a copycat. Nicci Gilbert, a popular ‘90s singer, is alleging the show is a direct rip-off of her stage play.

P-Valley cast on Zoom call
‘P-Valley’ cast during a live Q&A event 2020 | SeriesFest/Getty Images via Getty Images

Who is Nicci Gilbert?

Gilbert is the lead singer of the popular ‘90s R&B group Brownstone. The group is known for their 1994 hit single “If You Love Me,” which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance.

Source: YouTube

Outside of music, Gilbert is an actor. She’s appeared in several stage plays and had a guest role on Martin in the ‘90s. Gilbert also dabbled in reality television, producing the TV One reality series R&B Divas: Atlanta about singers from the 90s looking for their next big break. She starred in two seasons on the show, and also produced From The Bottom Up for BET Her.

Why she’s suing ‘P-Valley’ for copyright infringement

Yahoo reports that Gilbert has filed a suit in Atlanta, Georgia on Jan. 12 against Lionsgate Entertainment and Starz over the show. She alleges the show is a carbon copy of her musical stage play, Soul Kittens Cabaret. The musical was released on DVD in 2011.

In the suit, Gibert says that P-Valley is a “veritable unauthorized 2020 knock-off of Plaintiff’s ‘Soul Kittens Cabaret.’” She says the defendants “knowingly and illegally used Plaintiff’s works to create the ‘P-Valley’ television series.”

Source: YouTube

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According to Gilbert, she met with the network for a pitch meeting years ago. “During the Lionsgate SKC Pitch, Feltheimer expressed enthusiasm and interest in scripting ‘SKC’ as a musical drama series for Lionsgate and even stated that he loved the character named ‘Tata Burlesque,’” the lawsuit states. “Feltheimer further explained that he enjoyed reading scripts and would read the script over the weekend, share it with the Lionsgate team, and follow up with Bobbit.” But, after the meeting, Gilbert says she never heard back.

YouTube star Funky Dineva, who is friends with Gilbert, claimed in a recent video that Gilbert has a 40-minute video of scenes from her play that shows verbatim verbiage and similarities to the show. In the video, he also says the creator of P-Valley hired someone who starred in Gilbert’s play to be a consultant for the show.

What she’s requesting in the lawsuit

Gilbert wants actual and statutory damages. She also is requesting a jury trial in the civil suit to hear her case. 

A Lionsgate representative says that the company does not comment on litigation matters publicly. P-Valley was renewed for a second season. The show has received several major nominations, including GLAAD Media Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, TCA Awards and NAACP Image Awards.

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