Champ Moved Up


Fox has ratcheted up the battle between itself and Contender Partners -- a joint venture between Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks Television -- one more notch, moving the premiere of The Next Great Champ to Tuesday, Sept. 7 from Friday, Sept. 10.

That pits the show against NBC’s Father of the Pride, also from DreamWorks Television, which has been scheduled to premiere in the slot for months.

Contender Partners is producing its own boxing reality show, The Contender, for NBC. The show is scheduled to air in November. Contender Partners is suing Fox, Endemol USA, and production company Lock and Key Productions for conducting boxing matches without the correct licenses, and asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to enjoin the program. Fox argues that the First Amendment protects its right to air the show, especially since the violations have only been alleged but not acted upon by any official body.

As a result of the scheduling switch, the Los Angeles Superior Court has pushed up hearings on whether it should prevent Fox from airing Next Great Champ. The court also divided the issue in two, with a hearing on the First Amendment questions in the case scheduled for Aug. 27.

A second hearing on whether the show should be enjoined because its producers allegedly violated California state law now is scheduled for Sept. 7, the morning of Champ's premiere. In addition, Contender Partners asked the court for an expedited but broadened discovery process, and all the requested documents are due at the court on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Judge Lisa Hart Cole is overseeing both hearings, while Judge Linda Lefkowicz is overseeing the discovery process.