Mark Burnett denies knowing about spoiler lawsuit, even though his company filed it

On a conference call with reporters today, Survivor creator Mark Burnett was asked about my Daily Beast story outing Russell Hantz as the person who leaked information about the show (a charge Russell denies), and Burnett actually denied knowing anything about it until he read the story.

“I found out the same time you found out. I read it online. I had no idea about it. Don’t know if it’s actually true. As of this minute, I still have not had a conversation with CBS about it. I should probably call someone and ask someone,” Burnett said, according to Fancast’s transcript of the call. E! News has more: Burnett said, “I’ve not even spoken to Jeff about [it]. I forgot. I completely forgot about it. Maybe I’ll call him later.”

With all due respect, that’s a stupid answer, because it was his company that actually filed the lawsuit: he is listed as its president (as James Mark Burnett, his full name), and the company has the same “registered agent” as Mark Burnett’s other companies, such as SEG International.

Those on the call seemed to have missed this irony. While the proposed settlement agreement did include CBS as a party, it was not a named plaintiff on the lawsuit or the dismissal. [Update: This paragraph has been edited and corrected as noted below.]

Update: It’s amazing to me that no one called Burnett on this lie, but it’s an entirely different thing that everyone has just reported his nonsense verbatim, without any skepticism whatsoever. Just look at the headlines and the stories: everyone just reported what he said with no context whatsoever–or they got the context and facts wrong, as noted above.

I’m not sure why the entertainment press is so passive like this sometimes, but it’s crazy, because these kinds of details that so critical yet are often missed or ignored by journalists. When The Hollywood Reporter’s legal blog reported on my story, it got facts wrong, but their version was distributed worldwide by Reuters (the blog post was later edited).

The scary part is that this story is about a silly lawsuit over spoilers for a reality TV show, not something, you know, important.

Correction: A TV Guide editor points out via Twitter that my original story’s summary inaccurately stated that CBS and Mark Burnett Productions filed the lawsuit, which led TV Guide’s story to initially report that, though they have since corrected their story, and so I edited a paragraph above to remove a reference to its inaccuracy. The body of The Daily Beast story itself is and was accurate, but if someone only read the first line of the summary, they’d have gotten incorrect information. I regret not noticing that error earlier.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.