NBC U Sues Over O'Brien Access

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NBC Universal filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday to prevent former Access Hollywood anchor Pat O'Brien from promoting his new show, Paramount Domestic Television's The Insider, until his contract with the company expires Aug. 28.

The court denied NBC Universal's request to immediately restrain Paramount and O'Brien, but did set an expedited hearing for July 23. "At that time, we hope the court will grant the order we are seeking," NBC Universal Domestic Television said in a statement released Tuesday.

Last month, O'Brien exited Access Hollywood to become host of The Insider, which premieres Sept. 13. NBC Universal has asked the court asked for a temporary restraining order, which would prevent O'Brien from being associated with the show until Aug. 29.

Patty Glaser, an attorney with the Los Angeles-based law firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil and Shapiro, says Paramount had no intention of putting O'Brien into promotional spots until after his contract expires. "He's not doing anything now that in our view is remotely in violation of his limited obligations to NBC Universal," Glaser said.

Last week, O'Brien talked to reporters about his new job. The change had been widely reported when Access Hollywood announced June 16 that former New York correspondent Billy Bush would be taking over O'Brien's spot.

O'Brien's exit from the show has been messy, particularly after an edited version of a nasty e-mail he wrote to Access correspondent Shaun Robinson appeared last month in the New York Post's Page Six, including a statement from O'Brien apologizing for the e-mail.

Insiders say O'Brien requested a hefty salary increase from NBC Universal, which they refused, prompting his defection to Paramount. Several Access staffers also have departed for The Insider, which observers say has opened its wallet.

Even with the pending lawsuit, O'Brien still will be traveling to Athens to cover the 2004 Summer Olympics for NBC Sports, an NBC spokesman confirmed. 

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