Survivor: Lawsuit

Last year, I talked to Shawne Morgan, an “Amazing Race” contestant, with a CBS public relations person on the line. Morgan could only talk to me after she had been eliminated and was contractually prohibited from discussing future episodes.

For several of my questions Morgan asked the PR person if she could answer them, and I vaguely recall the PR person stopping me in mid-question or trying to change the topic.

My point is, I distinctly remember thinking CBS goes the extra mile to prevent any leaks. This all came back to me after reading a fascinating Daily Beast story about a lawsuit the network filed against a man who posted “Survivor” spoilers on a fan website.

The lawsuit against Jim Early was dismissed in January after he apparently identified the source of the confidential information he was revealing, such as who would be eliminated in certain episodes. The source? Russell Hantz, one of the Survivor contestants.

Andy Denhart writes:

The Survivor cast members’ contract states that contestants may not talk to the media without CBS publicity’s permission, nor may they reveal “the elimination of contestants and the selection of any winner.” The penalty for doing so is “liquidated damages” of $5 million.

That raises the question: Now that the lawsuit has been dismissed, will Survivor‘s network or producer use the information they received to sue or otherwise punish one of their own stars?

A statement from CBS was a classic non-answer answer. Maybe there’s a reason why Hantz is often described as the show’s ultimate villain.