This Hour Has 22 Minutes could sue Saturday Night Live for copyright infringement over a recent sketch that may have been plagiarized from the Canadian comedy show. "I think lawyers are talking right now," comedian Mark Critch told the CBC.
In the SNL sketch that aired earlier this month guest-starring Reese Witherspoon, Bobby Moynihan portrays a contestant competing on a Win, Lose or Draw-inspired game show. He is asked to draw the Prophet Muhammad to win $1 million, but grows uncomfortable and refuses. (Physical depictions of Muhammad are considered to be blasphemous by Islamic tradition.)
Fans were quick to point out the striking similarities between the SNL skit and a 22 Minutes sketch that had aired back in January, which featured the exact same game-show "draw" premise, prize money and ending.
"You can't do that. I mean, people have ripped people off before, millions of times, but this is word for word and DHX Media — which owns 22 Minutes — said they want to protect their intellectual property,” said Mark.
“ Never ever, in all my years of making fun of people, have I seen anything that’s pretty much word for word,” he added. “It’s kind of like if two different high schools are doing the same production of a high school play, different actors but the same thing.”
Michael Donovan of DHX Media released a statement over the controversy, saying, “While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, DHX Media Ltd. takes infringement of its intellectual property very seriously.”
SNL has yet to comment on the allegations, though one of the show’s former staffer’s, Dean Obeidallah, has come to Saturday Night Live’s defense, saying it’s “highly unlikely” that the writers plagiarized.
“What writer would risk his or her reputation, and possibly career, for a four-minute comedy sketch?” he wrote in a column posted on CNN.com.