Top Chef producers sue Texas to prevent release of details about the state’s product placement

Magical Elves, the creators and producers of Top Chef, have sued the Texas attorney general to prevent the release of information in documents from the Governor Rick Perry’s office related to the $400,000 Texas paid for product placement in the new season.

Today, The Dallas Observer reports on the progress of its requests for documents detailing what the money will be used for, and describes what happened:

“…the governor’s office asked the Attorney General’s Office to first decide whether the records should be released. (Certain proprietary information is exempted from the state’s public record laws.) Despite pleas from Magical Elves, on September 21 the Attorney General’s Office ruled that, yes, whatever the governor’s office dug up belongs to the people. Perry’s office ‘may not withhold any of the submitted information.’

[Now,]…Magical Elves has sued the attorney general, hoping to stop the governor’s office from turning over some amount of information regarding its arrangement with Perry’s office.”

The lawsuit, filed Monday, says that, as part of its brand integration with Texas, “Magical Elves provided confiential and propreitary information regardng Top Chef, as well as creative concepts and production ideas for Top Chef: Texas,” and the documents they want to protect include “proposals, correspondence, and related documents.” The governor’s office did release a few documents, which mostly consist of requests from journalists about the money; there are more details in the Observer’s story.

The lawsuit also says that producers want “to protect confidential, proprietary information.” Well, then, use your own money and not the public’s, or at least don’t ask the government to sponsor your show.

Just like obnoxious producers can’t stop the media from photographing The Bachelor when they’re filming in a public place, and Gail Simmons and a show publicist can’t stop someone from tweeting about their presence in a restaurant, a company can’t expect to be exempt from disclosure laws because it makes a TV show.

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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.