Outwit, outplay, outlast? More like outta luck, outside the terms of your contract, and, if CBS has its way, completely out of money.
Survivor's master manipulator (and one of the show's most popular players) Russell Hantz has allegedly taken his villainy into the real world, and is accused of serving as a reality show Deep Throat for the duration of his two seasons, leaking countless spoilers and game-changing secrets to a blogger.
And yes, that is in total violation of what we're assuming is a pretty airtight contract. And also yes, CBS is probably regretting casting him in the upcoming Rob vs. Russell season.
Here's the deal…
Survivor fan and rampant message board commenter Jim Early, posting under the name "missyae" on a Website called Survivor Sucks, was sued last summer by the network for "misappropriation of trade secrets" and "tortious interference with contract" after he posted a series of big spoilers (including the elimination order of contestants and, ultimately, the winners of seasons 19 and 20) and information from the show's locales that were not only true, but that only someone from the inside would know.
When pressed, according to The Daily Beast, Early sang like a canary agreed to reveal the identity of his source in exchange for CBS dropping the lawsuit. He did, but nobody was expecting—least of all the network, we're guessing—his supposed source: none other than Russell Hantz.
Keeping to its word, CBS dropped the lawsuit against Early last month, owing to his "cooperation…including the identification of source(s) of confidential information."
So now what? For the time being, it's a stalemate. Will CBS sue one of their biggest-named (if most hated) contestants, and on the eve of his much-hyped appearance on the next season, kicking off two weeks from tonight?
Well, they haven't yet. But they would be well within their rights to do so. Contestants' contracts prohibit them from speaking to the press without permission, let alone giving away major plot points of the show. Should they be found to have done so, they are contractually obliged to pay the network a penalty of $5 million in liquidated damages.
CBS issued a statement to The Daily Beast about the lawsuit earlier this week, using much less incendiary rhetoric than usual.
In addition to saying that the show had been "blessed with a rabid fanbase," they also noted that there are bound to be "periodic claims of unauthorized leaks from people connected to the show."
Might that include one of the biggest draws of the upcoming season?
"We've investigated some of these claims," they went on. "The fervent activity of these sites often generates a confusing web of backstabbing, claims of misinformation, and Internet alliances…Outwit, outplay, outlast. It happens more than just on the air."
As for Early, he said that he did not seek out Hantz, but stuck up a phone and email relationship with the contestant (after contacting Hantz to let him know someone had leaked the player's personal contact info online), and that the leaks and spoilers started to come to him completely unprompted.
As for why he felt comfortable giving up his source, he told The Daily Beast that he did so "because Russell tried to implicate another player, an innocent player, who wasn't giving information."
For Russell's part, he has not specifically responded to the lawsuit, but made it quite clear on his Facebook page last month that he was not willing to take the blame for the leaks, and did his best to discredit Early.
"That missyae is the same person that said kimbo slice and carrie prejean was on survivor 22 lmao!! I never seen them lol," he wrote, going on to tell fans that if they wanted spoilers on the upcoming season, they should go somewhere else.
"Please respect me as I respect my fans. I will NOT talk about season 22 so please don't ask until it's over. I respect the show and the people involved in it and the people who try to spoil the show can suck my ass.
"If you love the game, you won't go to spoiler sites. Like who really wants to know who wins the superbowl before you watch it play out? Don't be a retard, lol just watch it play out and you will like what you see."
Next time, try leaving these things to the professionals.