Today in The Daily Beast, I report on a lawsuit quietly filed last August by DJB, Inc., a company run by executive producer Mark Burnett, against a John Doe who turned out to be Jim Early, the man who posted accurate Survivor spoilers on Survivor Sucks as “missyae.” The lawsuit was dismissed after Early gave lawyers information about his source(s), and he told me that he identified Russell Hantz as the person who gave him information about seasons 19 and 20.
In the story, Early explains how he first came into contact with Russell, who originally appeared on Survivor Samoa and is about to appear on Survivor Redemption Island; why people thought “missyae” was Russell’s wife; why his information that Carrie Prejean and Kimbo Slice would be on season 22 was inaccurate; and why he identified Russell as his source, providing the lawyer who filed the lawsuit with e.mail as documentation to prove his claims. He also discusses his new Facebook group and spoiling in general.
The Survivor cast contract says cast members can be liable for damages of $5 million for revealing the results of the show before it airs. Will CBS sue Russell, arguably their biggest current star? When I asked CBS for comments about that, Early’s claims, and the lawsuit itself, the network sent this statement, which was excerpted in the piece:
Statement on behalf of the show
From the beginning, “Survivor” has been blessed with a rabid fan base, including a fanatical group online which, from the show’s early days, initiated one of television’s first organized campaigns to predict and speculate results in advance of a reality show broadcast. As the show has progressed in years and the Internet has grown in scope, the number of these sites has increased with periodic claims of unauthorized leaks from people connected to the show.
We’ve investigated some of these claims. Each time, we’ve peeled back the curtain to find a subculture of the show with fans/bloggers simultaneously networking and competing with each other for spoiler information while hurling accusations of unfair practices against each other.
The fervent activity of these sites often generates a confusing web of backstabbing, claims of misinformation and Internet alliances. It’s almost like an underground game-within-a-game of “Survivor” that plays out with the melodrama of a daytime soap and the complexity of Dungeons and Dragons.
Outwit, outplay, outlast. It happens more than just on the air.