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Another Writer Claims Hannah Montana as His Own

Hannah Montana DISNEY CHANNEL/JOEL WARREN

How many people came up with the premise for Hannah Montana, anyway?

Another writer has filed an implied breach-of-contract lawsuit claiming he pitched the original script for what ultimately became the hit Disney Channel series starring Miley Cyrus about a so-called average teen who moonlights as a pop star.

This latest beef is an offshoot of a federal copyright-infringement complaint filed in 2005, according to plaintiff Richard Fronduto's attorney.

"Mr. Fronduto continues to press his claims against Disney for appropriating his work without payment or credit," attorney Jerome L. Ringler said in a statement to E! News.

Per the complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by TMZ.com, Fronduto maintains he penned a script in 1990 titled The Secret Life of Sindi (never mind that that sounds like porn), which later was retitled Family Business.

His agent pitched the idea—which also featured a single dad who acts as his kid's manager—to Disney, Fronduto says, which in turn liked it so much that the network requested a draft for a two-hour pilot.

Sometime later, according to his lawsuit, his brainchild birthed Hannah Montana, which premiered in 2006.

Fronduto is seeking unspecified damages, as well as a "created by" credit on all future episodes of the hit cable series, now in the middle of its third season.

"At no time did Disney provide him credit or compensation, all of which are due him under the terms of the Writers Guild of America contract which Disney has signed," Ringler said.

Disney has not yet responded to the suit, but ABC Cable Networks denied any wrongdoing when comedy writer Buddy Sheffield sued in 2007, claiming he pitched the Hannah premise in 2001.

(Originally published Jan. 28, 2009 at 7:13 p.m. PT)

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