Man allegedly shown as drug informant on 'DEA' sues Spike TV, Al Roker

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Man allegedly shown as drug informant on 'DEA' sues Spike TV, Al Roker

Thu Nov 12, 2009 @ 11:29AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Stop-snitching A few years ago, HBO's "The Wire" was one of the hottest shows on TV and the media was temporarily fascinated with urban youth life. After kids started sporting T-shirts that read, "Stop Snitching," some reporters rushed to interview drug enforcement officials on this phenomenon.

But how about filing a defamation lawsuit for snitching a snitch?

In a complaint that can easily be labeled a sign of our times, a New York individual named Iban Hernandez is suing producers and distributors of reality show called "DEA" after allegedly portraying him in a March episode as a "drug dealer" turned "confidential informant."

Hernandez says Viacom, Spike TV, MTV Networks and um, nice guy Al Roker, "seriously damaged" his reputation and violated his publicity and privacy rights by inadequately blurring his image and surroundings in the episode. Hernandez reports getting physical threats of harm from others in his community as a result of the portrayal. Here's the complaint.

The Spike show is produced by Al Roker Entertainment and offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the Drug Enforcement Agency, including life on the streets of the illegal narcotics trade. The series has been embraced by the DEA, which has even issued press releases touting "more action, more dope and more money than viewers have ever seen before" and "a front row seat to DEA's hard-charging, relentless special agents risking lives for the mission." 

Whose lives?

We've reached out to Spike, Al Roker Entertainment and the DEA and will update if they comment.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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