Saturday Night Live has stirred controversy, and an accusation of of copyright infringement, over a comedy skit about Prophet Muhammad that starred Reese Witherspoon and Bobby Moynihan and aired this weekend.
The NBC sketch comedy show allegedly ripped off the punchline for its Picture Perfect skit from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a Canadian sketch comedy show from indie producer DHX Media that aired its own Prophet Muhammad game show skit in January.
"While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, DHX Media Ltd. takes infringement of its intellectual property very seriously," DHX Media executive chairman Michael Donovan told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
An NBC spokeswoman said the network had no comment on the plagiarism charge.
In the SNL segment, Pictionary contestants are asked to draw for a $1 million prize, and Moynihan's character panics when he's asked to depict the Prophet Muhammad.
"C'mon honey," Witherspoon's character begs, "you can draw it!" After another contestant, played by Kenan Thompson, also refuses to draw the character, Witherspoon's character guesses correctly that it is the Prophet Muhammad.
The skit This Hour Has 22 Minutes, also for a $1 million grand prize, has a contestant, this time played by Canadian comic Mark Critch, also refusing to draw after being asked to depict "Muhammad." "I can't draw this," Critch's character tell his wife, who then guesses it is the Prophet Muhammad.
"This has happened a few times both ways but this is the closet I've ever seen," Critch said Monday on his Twitter account of the similarities between the SNL and This Hour Has 22 Minutes comedy segments.
The SNL skit followed a week after two gunmen were killed after they opened fire on a security officer outside a Texas cartoon contest to depict the Prophet Muhammad for a $10,000 prize.