Acting as a mole and spilling secrets is all part of how the “Survivor” game is played, but that approach applied to the production itself comes with a hefty price tag.
After being slapped with a lawsuit by “Survivor” executive producer and creator Mark Burnett’s company late last year for dishing on upcoming eliminations on the CBS reality show, fan Jim Early has turned over his source.
Hantz will appear on the show’s 22nd season when “Survivor: Redemption Island” begins Feb. 16.
The “Survivor” cast member contract states that contestants are prohibited from revealing “the elimination of contestants and the selection of any winner.” The penalty for doing so is “liquidated damages” of $5 million.
Hantz has allegedly been the source for leaks about the elimination order of two “Survivor: Samoa” contestants and spoilers about “Survivor: Heroes vs Villains” through Early’s posting on the website Survivor Sucks.
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Hantz alleged participation in spoilers is ironic given his recent Facebook post addressed to fans. “If you love the game, you won’t go to spoiler sites. Like who really wants to know who wins the Super Bowl before you watch it play out? Don’ t be a retard, lol just watch it play out and you will like what you see,” he wrote.
Instead, Early told The Daily Beast, when Hantz saw the attention his information generated on message boards, “He just started coming out and telling me what happened: who was leaving, who won challenges.”
After being sued by Burnett’s DJB Inc. for “misappropriation of trade secrets” and “tortuous interference with contract” in August, Early eventually gave up Hantz, “because of his attitude about the whole thing, and because Russell tried to implicate another player, an innocent player, who wasn’t giving information.”
Early reportedly turned over emails from Hantz to Burnett’s lawyers. “I gave him an email from Russell spoiling something. … They were very happy to get that email, and I have many, many more,” Early said.
The lawsuit against Early was dismissed in January because of his cooperation.
Early first made contact with Hantz when someone posted Hantz’s contact information online and Early called him to “warn him” it had been leaked. Early said Hantz called back that night, “teasing” information about the show.
Eventually “all I had to do was pick up the phone and say ‘hello’ and I had anything I wanted,” Early said.
Two months after the lawsuit was filed, Hantz started feeding Early bad information, according to Early, including that Kimbo Slice and Carrie Prejean would be contestants.
It remains to be seen if CBS will go after Hantz.