You gotta love show-business stories like this one: After five years of runaway success with ‘Deadliest Catch,’ Discovery Channel is now suing two of the fishermen seen on the show for $3 million.
Discovery evidently thinks that two of the Hillstrand brothers – Johnathan (“John”) and Andy, alternating co-captains of the Time Bandit, one of the ‘Deadliest Catch’ fishing boats – breached a contract they’d signed to participate in the filming of a potential spin-off series.
In response, a lawyer for the brothers calls the $3 million suit “an astonishing and shameful instance of arrogance and greed run amok.”
The lawsuit – filed last week in Maryland (Discovery is based in Silver Spring), according to the Hollywood Reporter – accuses the two Hillstrands of completing some work on the pilot for a prospective new series called ‘Hillstranded,’ but then deciding to “reverse course, dishonor their promises, and refuse to render the services necessary to complete [it],” says the complaint quoted by THR.
According to the lawsuit, some filming on the prospective pilot was completed in June, but when Discovery tried to round up the Hillstrands for another shoot in August, Discovery execs allegedly received an e-mail from an attorney instructing the cabler to basically leave the brothers alone.
With filming on the show still not completed, Discovery is claiming $3 million in damages from the lost costs of the production so far and from losses in potential commercial revenue the network is claiming from its inability to air the show at all.
The two Hillstrands’ lawyer said in his statement to THR, “While CEO David Zaslav reaps a $33.9 million bonanza in a single day in January 2010, his company attempts to bankrupt hardworking fishermen…. Isn’t there enough unemployment in America without forcing hard-working sea captains to… sell their boats and fire their crews?”
‘Hillstranded’ was supposed to show the brothers away from the crab-fishing business that is the focus of ‘Deadliest Catch,’ instead embarking on adventures in Alaska unrelated to crabbing.
It is unclear whether Andy and John’s participation on ‘Deadliest Catch’ would hit rough seas, now that their network is suing them.
How about it, ‘Deadliest Catch’ fans? If it comes to that, can the show survive without the Hillstrands? When it comes to casting fishermen, are there other fish in the sea?