A South Florida writer on Tuesday demanded that Barbara Walters admit to stealing his idea for the successful television show, ‘The View,’ and that she issue an apology to him on the show before she officially retires on May 16.
“In my opinion, and based on information and belief, Barbara Walters is a fraud and a liar,” said Jay Schorr, a writer from Hollywood, Florida who created Kmart’s ‘I Found Love At A Kmart Store’ advertising campaign. “Barbara Walters stole my idea for a women’s-oriented daily talk show then claimed it as her own. I don’t want money. I want an apology and vindication.”
Schorr has offered to take a lie detector test and challenged Walters and her former assistant to do the same.
“If they didn’t steal my proposal for 'The View' then they’ve got nothing to fear by taking a lie detector test,” said Schorr. “Hiding behind ‘no comment’ statements by the ABC legal department is cowardly and disingenuous. It doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Schorr says that he presented Barbara Walters with the idea for a daily women’s-oriented panel talk show in November 1995 that focused on issues of importance to women. Schorr said he came up with the idea during the O.J. Simpson trial that brought national attention to women’s issues such as spousal abuse. He said he approached Walters to host the show because of her illustrious interviewer background, name recognition, and prominent status as a respected newswoman.
According to Schorr, he submitted his program proposal to Barbara Walters through her personal assistant, who suggested he fax the proposal to her at Walters’ office. Schorr immediately faxed the presentation to the fax number provided. Schorr then called Walters’ assistant to confirm receipt of the materials.
“When I called to confirm receipt, the assistant said she’d placed the proposal on Walters’ desk for review and that she’d get back to me,” Schorr said. “When I didn’t hear anything from Walters, I assumed she wasn’t interested.”
Schorr says he has a Bellsouth telephone bill that shows he called Walters’ office back in November 1995, as well as showing the fax number to which Walters’ assistant told Schorr to fax his program proposal. The two calls were made on the same day, minutes apart. The bill also reflects a follow-up call to Walters’ office that day made minutes after the fax was sent.
The week before pitching Walters, Schorr contacted Bill Geddie, now executive producer of ‘The View’ who had worked with Walters producing numerous television specials for ABC. At the time Geddie had his own production company. Schorr said he spoke with Geddie about the show idea and Geddie said he thought Walters would make a good host for the show. Geddie recommended that Schorr contact Walters about hosting the show.
“Geddie said he thought Walters might embrace the project and that I should give her a call,” said Schorr. “Now he claims co-creator credit for 'The View'.”
When asked why he waited 19 years to make his accusations, Schorr said he’d contacted numerous attorneys right after he heard ‘The View’ was set to debut but that none of the attorneys would take the case on a contingency fee basis. In contingency fee cases lawyers don’t charge clients unless they either settle the case or win a monetary verdict.
“Going up against Barbara Walters and ABC would have entailed hundreds of man-hours, tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, a drawn-out legal battle, and inevitable appeals,” Schorr proferred. “Most attorneys don’t have an appetite for that type of litigation based solely on a contingency basis.”
Schorr says that although he can’t sue because of the statute of limitations, he decided to go public with his story because he wants vindication and an apology from Walters.
“She [Walters] has got more money and fame than she’ll ever need; she didn’t have to steal my show proposal to pad her bank account and career standing,” he said. “It’s an affront to decency and morality. People should know the truth about her and Geddie. It’s truly the principle here.”