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PLAGIARISM SUIT MAY FORCE CBS TO YANK NEW SERIES

In what could be unprecedented in TV history, CBS may have to pull a new series from its fall schedule because it is allegedly plagiarized from an award-winning book.

David Simon, author of the 1991 book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," says the CBS drama "Polish Hill" contains an astonishing number of similarities to his non-fiction account of Baltimore murder investigators.The dispute pits Simon and Oscar-winning film director Barry Levinson, who bought the TV rights to "Homicide," against media giant Time Warner Inc. "Polish Hill" is being produced by Warner Bros. Television.

Their attorney said they may seek a court order to block broadcast of the program if substantial changes are not made. Warner Bros. insists that "Polish Hill" is original and plans no revisions.

"We are really stunned by all of these allegations," said Barbara Brogliatti, a Warner spokeswoman. "Our attorneys reviewed the allegations . . . and it was their determination there are no merits to the plagiarism charge."

The one-hour show, starring Robin Givens and Pam Gidley as two young homicide investigators, is supposed to premiere in the new TV season on Saturday nights. CBS declined comment on the dispute.

Simon, a crime reporter for The (Baltimore) Sun, says entire accounts, dialogue and characters were lifted from his book by "Polish Hill" screenwriter John Wells.

"I called CBS and said, `How can you put this on? This is stolen material,"' Simon said in an interview. "Two of his (Wells') three murders are directly out of the book."

In one scene of the "Polish Hill" script, he said, "Every single line of dialogue was copied verbatim - including vernacular."

Wells, a board member of the Writers Guild of America who was executive producer of "China Beach," referred calls to Brogliatti.

Memos written by Simon and an executive at Levinson's production company detail dozens of similarities between the book and "Polish Hill" screenplay drafts.

Simon's book, for example, features the abduction of an 11-year-old girl walking home from school in a red raincoat. The prime suspect is "The Fish Man." The television show opens with the abduction of a 9-year-old girl walking home from school in a red raincoat. The prime suspect is "The Candyman."

In "Homicide," a man named Greg Taylor is murdered. "Anyone go through his pockets? Watch for needles," an investigator says. In "Polish Hill," the murder victim is named Yaffet Taylor. "Check his pockets for I.D. Watch out for needles," an investigator says.

One of the main subjects in Simon's book is a crime board, which tracks murder cases and investigators. Simon claims the board is unique to Baltimore. But a similar board, even with the same color pens and the same use of "primary" and "secondary" investigators, is featured in "Polish Hill."

Many elements of the completed "Polish Hill," however, are not found anywhere in Simon's book.

To block the broadcast of "Polish Hill," Simon's attorneys will have to prove in federal court that the series contains "substantial similarities" to "Homicide."