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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 16:17 GMT
Survivor creators sue contestant
Susan Hawk, Rudy Boesch, Kelly Wiglesworth and Richard Hatch
Ms Stillman claims producers favoured Rudy Boesch (second left)
The producers of the US reality TV hit Survivor have hit back against Stacey Stillman, the contestant who is suing them - claiming her early exit from the show was rigged.

On Tuesday SEG Inc filed a countersuit against Stillman, a San Francisco lawyer who says the shows producer convinced two fellow contestants to vote her off to protect another contestant.

According to SEG, Stillman has violated a confidentiality contract, with a $5m (3.4m) penalty charge attached, that she signed before appearing in the show.

Richard Hatch in Survivor
The show's winner: Richard Hatch on the island
They allege that she violated the agreement by misrepresenting and disclosing information about the show to a number of people including freelance writer Peter Lance, who last year published a book about the series.

Denials and damages

The CBS network had already denied Stillman's allegations that the show deceived the public by claiming it was a fair contest.

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.

Richard Hatch
Hatch took away a $1m prize
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.

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

Rudy Boesch, the contestant Stillman claims was favoured by the show's producer, 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
07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Survivor loser sues creator
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