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A Dose of Reality Upside the Head
Protecting us from reality TV

By Joseph M. Giardiello
[email protected]


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Finally! Some actual reality on a reality T.V. show.

It seems CBS made the mistake of putting a lawyer in the cast of the first Survivor. And what happens when a lawyer interacts with the rest of humanity? Someone gets sued, of course!

Now I'm far from one of those lawyer-bashing types. After all, we all hate 'em until we need 'em (and I've needed a few in my time). But there is something so fitting about a yuppie lawyer filing a lawsuit against a reality TV show that's based on the furthest thing possible from reality.  (Personally, I prefer to get my dose of reality from South Park, but that's another story.) 

In case you�ve been� well, on that Survivor island and haven�t heard, former Survivor Stacey Stillman, a San Francisco lawyer, has filed a suit seeking the $1 million in prize money she claims she was cheated out of, expenses and punitive damages. In the suit she claims the producers of the show had private conversations with other members of the cast and convinced them to vote her off the island.

Their reason: Demographics. She charges the producers were protecting 72-year old Rudy Boesch, the oldest remaining member of the cast.  A sort of reverse ageism if you believe in that sort of thing.

But most important for the TV viewing audience, she is seeking to maintain the integrity of reality TV. She wants a stern statement from the courts stating the show "was unfairly and fraudulently prearranged or predetermined in violation of law." It continues, "This unlawful scheme resulted in the premature expulsion of the plaintiff-contestant, defrauding her and the viewing public, and altered the ultimate outcome of Survivor."

Thank God someone is out there protecting us, the viewing public from falsified reality T.V.  And as long as we're at it, since I'm part of the viewing public Ms. Stillman is out to protect, how do I get my share of the loot?

By the reading of the lawsuit, there has not been such a scheme perpetrated on the public since Al Gore warned us of W's risky schemes about damn near everything.  "The producers of Survivor engaged in the scheme for the purpose of prearranging or predetermining its outcome, by influencing, persuading or intimidating contestants to cast votes for certain of the contestants."  Egad, and here I thought all along that reality T.V. meant that this was like real life or something.

CBS Television released a short statement denying the accusations:  "We heard about Stacey Stillman's allegations several months ago.  They had no merit then; they have no merit now that she has packaged them into a frivolous and groundless lawsuit.

'Survivor' has received more press and public scrutiny than any show in recent television history, and its creative integrity has remained intact throughout. We are therefore confident that the courts, as well as 'Survivor' viewers, will see the case as utterly without foundation.''

So there you have it.  A television show, which took the term frivolous to new heights, completes the circle by calling the lawsuit frivolous.  The wolves devour their young.

Last year Stillman told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I'm perfectly OK with the way they're representing me as the sort of Heather Locklear-'Melrose Place' bitch."

So maybe there was a little bit of reality in Survivor after all.

Buy Books on Survivor

Survivor II:  The Field Guide
by Mark Burnett

101 Survival Secrets: How to Win $1,000,000, Lose 100 Pounds, and Just Plain Live Happily
by Richard Hatch

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� Joseph M. Giardiello, 2022

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