Just three months after promising to “vigorously defend” itself against a lawsuit over Zootopia, Disney is now making the same assertion about claims that it stole the idea for Inside Out from a childhood development specialist and TV parenting expert. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Denise Daniels is suing Disney and Pixar for allegedly taking her concept for anthropomorphized emotions, which she pitched repeatedly from 2005 to 2009. Daniels helped found the National Childhood Grief Institute, where she’d counseled kids in the wake of events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and eventually crafted the premise for The Moodsters.
What began as a TV pilot was shopped to Disney and Pixar, whom Daniels claims kind-of, sort-of led her to believe they’d give her credit if they moved forward with it. Her lawsuit alleges “breach of implied-in-fact contract,” because while she never got an offer, what she knew of “entertainment industry customs and practices” made her think she’d eventually be compensated if the project was ever produced. Her understanding of how these movers and shakers work comes from decades of close observation: Daniels has won a Peabody for her work in children’s programming, and she’s appeared on several TV shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, and The Today Show, the latter of which dubbed her its first parenting expert in 1991.
A Disney spokesperson has already issued the requisite “Inside Out was an original Pixar creation” statement, and THR has the full complaint available here, which is all legalese, and not at all written from Anger or Sadness’ point of view.