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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 10:25 GMT
Survivor loser sues creator
Susan Hawk, Rudy Boesch, Kelly Wiglesworth and Richard Hatch
Ms Stillman claims producers favoured Rudy Boesch (second left)
A contestant who was voted out of the US reality TV hit Survivor is suing the show's creator, claiming her early exit from the show was rigged.

San Francisco lawyer Stacey Stillman says Mark Burnett convinced two fellow contestants to vote her off to protect another contestant.

She says he wanted to keep Rudy Boesch, 72, in the show to appeal to an older demographic. He was the only remaining contestant over 40.

The CBS network denied the allegations, and said Burnett would not comment on the 14-page lawsuit.

Richard Hatch in Survivor
The show's winner: Richard Hatch on the island
The network said in a statement: "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, based on a British format devised in the 1980s, pitted two "tribes" against each other on an island off the coast of Borneo. Each week, one of the tribes voted off a member.

Ms Stillman was the third contestant to be evicted from the island.

She is claiming damages for alleged fraud, breach of contract and unlawful business practises. Fellow contestants Dirk Been and Sean Kenniff are also accused of conspiracy.

Mr Kenniff said he did not feel coerced, while a spokesman for Mr Been declined to comment.

Ms Stillman has also asked for compensation to cover lost prize money, plus $75,000 (51,540) in damages.

Richard Hatch
Hatch took away a $1m prize
Rudy Boesch made it to the final four contestants on Survivor, but the competition was won by corporate trainer Richard Hatch, who received $1m (687,380).

The series was the most successful summer prime-time show in US TV history, with almost 60 million viewers tuning into the show's final episode.

A British version is being developed for ITV by production company Planet 24, under the control of Nigel Lythgoe, the LWT executive behind the success of Popstars.

See also:

06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Breakfast babies on US TV
24 Aug 00 | Entertainment
US TV's million-dollar Survivor
23 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Blow for mogul's Big Brother claim
19 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Hometown honour for Survivor winner
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